A Tarrant County jury took less than 20 minutes Tuesday to render a guilty verdict for a Fort Worth man accused of killing a homeless man and faking his own death so that he could escape prosecution for sexually assaulting a child.
Prosecutors argued that Michael Henderson killed Gary Ali, who was also believed to be mentally ill, on March 30, 2011, so that he could assume Ali’s identity. A looming charge of sexual assault of a child under 17 was Henderson’s motive, prosecutors said.
Henderson automatically received a sentence of life without parole since the state did not seek the death penalty, his defense attorneys said.
Henderson, 49, has been convicted of a sexual assault before. On Oct. 16, 1987, he was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child younger than 14.
Never miss a local story.
If you sit on 25 more capital murder cases you will never have a case as clear-cut as this.
Kevin Rousseau, Tarrant County prosecutor
“The defendant had a new wallet with Gary Ali’s Social Security card in it,” prosecutor Kevin Rousseau said during closing arguments. “He had Gary Ali’s birth certificate in between the front seats of his truck and Gary Ali’s voter registration card in a strongbox. The victim’s blood is on the defendant’s shirt ... The victim’s blood is on the defendant’s tennis shoes. If you sit on 25 more capital murder cases, you will never have a case as clear-cut as this.”
Henderson’s wife, LaTonya Gilbert, testified last week that she supported the then-16-year-old female relative Henderson is accused of sexually assaulting on March 22, 2011.
She also testified that Henderson disappeared for a few days after the alleged sexual assault. When she heard from him again, he told her he had withdrawn most of their money — about $28,000 — from their savings accounts and obtained a handgun with which to kill himself.
Days later, Henderson told her that he was going to have someone kill him for life insurance money and assured her that she would be “taken care of,” Gilbert testified.