Man accused of Waverly murder found unfit for trial, case delayed until January

By Gary Scott on October 24, 2017 at 12:45pm

It will be several months, and at the very latest a year, before the Waverly man accused of multiple counts of murder goes to trial.

Thirty-three year old Nathan Henson appeared in Morgan County court today for a hearing regarding a mental and physical fitness evaluation ordered by the court at his last appearance in September. Defense Attorney Tom Piper submitted the results of that evaluation to Judge Chris Reif today for it to be filed under seal by the court. Springfield-based psychiatrist Dr. Terry Killian conducted that evaluation and it was determined that Henson is currently unfit for trial.

Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll explains where the case now stands given Henson’s evaluation results.

“What that means is the case cannot proceed because the defendant is not mentally able to assist with his own defense. During cases like this, when that occurs, the defendant is then transferred to the Department of Human Services, and he’ll go from our secure facility here to a secured facility through the Department of Human Services and they will attempt to restore him to fitness. They have up to one year to restore him to fitness, and during that time, if and when he is restored to fitness, the defendant will be transferred back to the Morgan County jail and the case will proceed from there,” Noll explains.

Noll says that Henson will likely be placed in the Chester Mental Health Center in Randolph County by the Department of Human Services. And while they have up to a year to get Henson back to a condition in which he’s fit for trial, Noll says it more likely to be a few months until Henson is back in court.

“Normally a defendant is put on some medication, given some treatment in the Department of Human Services and they are restored to fitness relatively quickly. If I had to guess, the defendant will be with the Department of Human Services for somewhere between 90 and 180 days, at which point they will probably restore him to fitness, he’ll be returned to our jail, and the case will proceed from there,” says Noll.

After the prosecution concurred with the opinions of Dr. Killian’s evaluation, Judge Reif set Henson’s next court date for January 16th of next year. Noll explains what will take place at that hearing.

“At that time, the court will receive – if they haven’t already – a report determining whether or not the defendant has been found fit, or, if he has not been found fit, what progress has been made towards accomplishing that goal. The defendant, if he is fit, will be transferred back to our jail and will be present for that status. In the event the defendant is still unfit, it’s possible that he’ll remain in the custody of the Department of Human Services, and his presence will be waived at that hearing,” Noll says.

Henson faces three counts of first degree murder in the death of his wife, 29-year old Jessie Henson, as well as three counts of intentional homicide of an unborn child back on September 5th.