VISTA (CNS) - A preliminary hearing is scheduled Monday for a paroled rapist accused of fatally shooting his wife in front of their two children as they prepared to go to church on New Year's Day.
Dontaye Henderson, 29, is charged with one count each of murder, being a felon in possession of a handgun and kidnapping -- all felonies -- and two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment. He faces a maximum of 96 years to life in prison if convicted.
Henderson's preliminary hearing was supposed to take place last Thursday, but he intentionally rammed his head into a sharp medical object, forcing a delay.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe told the judge at Henderson's arraignment in late January that the defendant was on parole for a 2003 conviction for raping a former wife when he fatally shot his current spouse, Tamara. The 25-year-old victim, a U.S Army reservist, had a 6-year-old daughter, and the couple had a 16-month-old son together, he said.
The 6-year-old saw her mother get shot in the chest, Watanabe told the judge.
Henderson called 911 after the shooting, telling dispatchers his wife had had an asthma attack and needed help, Watanabe said.
When authorities arrived, they found the victim on the bed with a photo of the defendant face-down on her chest and a photo on the couple face-down on her groin area, the prosecutor said. Henderson was gone, but the two children were sitting by the family's Christmas tree when authorities arrived, he said.
The defendant forced a female co-worker, Consuelo Ramirez, to drive him to El Centro with her child before letting her go, the prosecutor alleged.
Authorities determined that Henderson was on a bus to Lexington, Ky., which was intercepted in St. Louis on Jan. 4. He was carrying a camera bag containing a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and confessed to agents that he had killed his wife, Watanabe said.
At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, a judge will determine if enough evidence was presented for Henderson to stand trial.