VISTA — Dontaye Henderson, 29, was back in court Oct. 25 for a readiness conference after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity at a hearing the previous week. But he changed his plea, again.
“Today he withdrew his NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity) plea and changed it to a regular not guilty plea,” said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.
Henderson is accused of gunning down his wife in front of her kids in their Oceanside home on New Year’s Day while on parole for a 2003 conviction of sexually assaulting his ex-wife Tamara Henderson, 25, who was also the mother of the couple’s toddler-aged son.
The killing took place at the Paseo De Laura residential neighborhood while the family of four was getting dressed for church services, according to police.
Tamara Henderson was a U.S Army Reservist and also had a 6-year-old daughter.
On the day of the shooting, the victim’s two children were found sitting next to the Christmas tree in the apartment when paramedics arrived, the prosecutor said during an earlier court hearing.
The 6-year-old girl told responding authorities “Daddy shot mommy and now daddy is dead,” Watanabe said.
The mother was found on her bed with a gunshot wound to her chest and in grave condition.
Tamara Henderson died from her injury a short time later at a local hospital.
Dontaye Henderson had made the emergency phone call for help, fled the scene, cut off his parole bracelet and tossed it into the trash at a nearby hotel, according to previous testimony.
He then kidnapped a female co-worker and her toddler son, and forced the woman to drive him east toward El Cajon, according to the Oceanside Police Department.
Days later, after a massive police hunt, Henderson was detained on Jan. 4 at a Greyhound bus station in St. Louis, Mo. while trying to make his way to Lexington, Ky.
In June, a judged ruled that Henderson was competent to stand trial after examining the defendant’s medical records.
On Aug. 4, Henderson caused a delay in his hearing that day after he intentionally rammed his head into a sharp object and caused an injury that prevented him from attending court.
San Diego County Superior Judge Daniel Goldstein said that Henderson’s conduct was likely intentional.