Henson Unfit For Trial, Discharge Hearing Set for 2022

By Benjamin Cox on October 24, 2019 at 12:34pm

Nathan Henson's mugshot from September 6, 2017.

A Waverly man is still unfit to stand trial for the alleged murder of his wife and unborn child that occurred in 2017. A discharge hearing was heard in Morgan County Court on Tuesday for 33 year old Nathan Henson to determine whether he was to be found not guilty by reason of insanity because he had not received mental fitness within a 1 year time frame, as deemed by statute. State’s Attorney Gray Noll explains further: “There are two different questions for this particular case. The first of which was dealt with on a previous occasion is whether the defendant is fit to stand trial. What that means is, is what is his state of mind now? Does he have a state of mind that allows him to assist in his own defense? It has already been determined that he is unfit to do that. It was determined by a couple of different experts and the State and the Defense stipulated to the opinions of those experts in the case. The separate issue is what was his state of mind on the date that the murder occurred. One of the rulings the judge could have made at this discharge hearing was that the defendant was not guilty by reason of insanity. That is to say, on the date that this incident ocurred, he was of such a mindset that he didn’t grasp basically the mens rea. He didn’t have the intent to do what he did based on some mental defect of some kind.”

Judge Chris Reif’s ruling orders Nathan Henson into the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for treatment for up to 5 years or October 23, 2022. If at that time he is still unfit, another discharge hearing could occur and the process would start again. Reif said in his ruling that current evidence in the case is sufficient enough to prove Henson guilty at trial. Henson says the incident occurred because he was trying to defend himself. Noll outlines some of Henson’s statements to police: “He gave a statement that evening to police, which was alluded to in the hearing by the judge. In his statement, he said a variety of different things. There was a mention of something about self-defense or he was defending himself. It wasn’t something that he spent a long time discussing with the investigating officer.”

According to a report from the State Journal Register in January 2018, William Sanders, the brother of the victim, chased Nathan Henson to a nearby yard and struck him several times, according to former Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack. Judge Reif took issue with Henson’s flight from the scene in court Tuesday saying it demonstrated a knowledge of wrongdoing.

Henson is accused of stabbing 29-year-old Jessie Henson and beating her with a bat at their Waverly home on September 5th, 2017. He is also accused of intentional homicide of an unborn child because prosecutors contend that Nathan Henson knew his wife was pregnant at the time. First-degree murder is punishable by 20 to 60 years in prison. Willingly causing the death of an unborn child is punishable by a similar term.