Angela Henderson stood in front of a judge Thursday and said she had secured legal representation for her retrial on a second-degree murder case.
The only problem? Henderson stood alone at the defense table and word of a private attorney came as news to Dwight Scroggins, the Buchanan County prosecutor.
“She does not have an attorney,” Scroggins told Circuit Judge Daniel Kellogg, “although she thinks she does.”
The judge postponed Thursday’s scheduled trial setting and ordered Henderson, 50, also known as Angela Mollett, to return to court Aug. 2 with an answer to the attorney question. Kellogg said she would need to file for a public defender no later than July 20.
It wasn’t the first delay in a case that traces its origins to the December 2012 stabbing death of 57-year-old Clinton “Sam” Justice. Police found the victim in a pool of blood inside his own apartment.
Kim Keith Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case and agreed to testify against Henderson, who’d had a relationship with Justice and eventually was charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with evidence.
She was sentenced to life in prison, plus 25 years, following a jury conviction in 2016.
The case was sent back to Buchanan County after an appellate court this spring ordered a retrial, citing an error in jury instructions and a need for additional alternative instructions.
During Thursday’s brief court appearance, Henderson displayed the air of someone who was not unfamiliar with a courtroom. She told the judge she was awaiting a preliminary hearing at the associate circuit level because the case was starting from scratch.
The judge told her the case was further along and he was ready to proceed with a trial setting.
“Whoever told you that was wrong,” Kellogg said.
Supporters of both Henderson and the victim sat on opposite sides of the courtroom.