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    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    State rests in Pawcatuck murder trial

    During testimony at his murder trial, 47-year-old Carlton Henderson said that he remembered details of what happened before his girlfriend was stabbed to death at his Pawcatuck home in 2019, but “it was a blur after that.”

    The state rested its case on Wednesday, and the 12-member jury was expected to start deliberations either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

    Henderson said it was his former girlfriend, 41-year-old Brandia Irvin, who pulled out a knife after an argument when she refused to drive him to McDonald’s for breakfast.

    “I lunged for the knife. We started struggling,” Henderson testified. “I don’t really remember nothing after that.”

    Friends and family who were in court for the testimony called Henderson’s story on the witness stand Wednesday an outright lie. State prosecutor Christa Baker, also questioned Henderson’s story, telling jurors during her closing arguments that Henderson “conveniently” can’t remember stabbing Irvin four times in the neck and leaving her in a pool of blood outside her 77 Mechanic St. home in Pawcatuck before fleeing to New York.

    Henderson faces more than 60 years in prison if convicted of risk of injury to a minor and murder for killing Irvin, a working single mother who friends and family said had grown tired of Henderson’s drug and alcohol use and inability to hold down a job. Irvin, according to testimony at trial, had moved out of her Mechanic St. home and was staying with her mother during the week leading up to her death. Irvin’s mother testified her daughter was scared of being alone with Henderson.

    Henderson admitted during his testimony at trial that he suspected, without evidence, that Irvin might have been seeing another man and said, “I was scared of losing her.”

    Irvin returned to her home on Nov. 29, 2019, the night before the murder, to stay with her 12-year-old son, who had just returned from a Thanksgiving holiday vacation with family.

    Henderson, who had refused to move out despite not paying rent, testified that he had also spent the night at the home drinking and smoking PCP ― his longtime drug of choice. The next morning, on Nov. 30, 2019, Henderson asked Irvin to take him to McDonald’s for breakfast. She refused, he testified, and then confronted him with a knife.

    Irvin’s son, however, testified at trial that Irvin had appeared in his bedroom on the morning of Nov. 30, 2019, with Henderson holding her around the neck as she pleaded for him to calm down. The son testified he watched Henderson jab a knife into his mother’s neck and later drag her by the hair as she tried to get to the front door.

    “He ran for help. He ran through his mother’s blood…and struggled to get out the front door past the accused, who had his mother by the hair, dragging her back into the house,” Baker told jurors.

    Irvin’s son ran to the neighbor’s home and asked someone to call 911. Police found Irvin unconscious in a pool of blood outside her front door.

    Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Maura DeJoseph testified that Irvin died from four stab wounds to the neck, one that severed a major artery and another that severed her spinal cord. Had she lived, Irvin would have been paralyzed.

    Baker introduced testimony at trial that showed after the killing Henderson drove away from the Mechanic Street home and stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get coffee. He later started calling family members and fled to New York City. During conversations with family, Baker said Henderson attempted to get rid of his car.

    “This man who claims he doesn’t remember stabbing Brandia four times then hid out in Hartford for three days,” Baker said. “Does this sound like a man who has forgotten what he did or does it sound like a man whose trying to hide. Does this sound like a man who has a guilty conscience.”

    Defense Attorney Jerome Paun, who represents Henderson, has attempted at trial to paint a picture of a man under an increasing amount of stress because of his escalating drug use and breakup with Irvin.

    Judge Shari Murphy, however, denied Paun’s motion to instruct the jury on an affirmative defense of “extreme emotional disturbance,” which would bolster the defense’s chances for the jury to consider a lesser offense other than murder, such as manslaughter. Murphy said there was not convincing evidence to support the request.


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