VISTA (CNS) - 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 must stand trial on murder and other charges, a judge ruled Monday.
Dontaye Henderson, 29, remains in custody in lieu of $10 million bail in connection with the death of 25-year-old Tamara Henderson.
After a daylong preliminary hearing, Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman ruled that enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial. Arraignment in Superior Court was set for Aug. 18, when a trial date could be set.
Henderson told the judge that he didn't want to be in the courtroom for his preliminary hearing, so Kirkman had the defendant listen to the proceedings from a nearby holding cell.
The defendant is charged with one count each of murder and being a felon in possession of a handgun and two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment. He faces a maximum of 88 years to life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe said Henderson was on parole for a 2003 conviction for raping his former spouse when he allegedly shot his wife in the chest.
The defendant's former wife testified that they were married in late 2002 and he immediately became very controlling, not letting her interact with friends. She said Henderson beat her and tried to choke her with a cable cord, and later raped her in a hotel room after she told him she wanted a divorce.
The woman said there was a knife in the room when Henderson raped her.
"He told me if I came back with him, he wouldn't hurt me," the 33-year-old woman testified.
She said Henderson raped her "too many times to remember."
Tamara Henderson's mother, Elsie Billups, testified that her daughter -- an Army reservist -- had a 6-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and a 16-month-old son with the defendant.
Billups said her daughter and son-in-law were supposed to meet her and other family members for an 11 a.m. service on New Year's Day, but they never showed up.
When Billups had another daughter call Tamara, the defendant answered and said his wife was in the shower. A friend who lived near the Hendersons called back to say she had their children and that Tamara and Dontaye had been in a fight.
In the background, the victim's 6-year-old daughter was overheard saying, "My daddy shot my mom, and my mom is dead."
In a series of 911 calls, the defendant told emergency operators that his wife "hurt herself" and "was hurt pretty bad" and it was "all an accident." Henderson also told dispatchers that the victim was having an asthma attack.
When authorities arrived, they found her 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.
A co-worker, Consuelo Ramirez, said she went with Henderson to El Centro with her child after the killing but wasn't kidnapped, according to Watanabe.
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.