Home News Local News Suspect in sexual assault to be held pending trial

Suspect in sexual assault to be held pending trial

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Jason Henderson (Submitted Photo)

A man suspected of sexually assaulting his former girlfriend and attacking her with a machete will remain held without bond following a ruling Wednesday by a local judge.

During a hearing via Google Meet, District Judge James Hudson of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court granted a motion by the District Attorney’s Office for the pretrial detention of Jason Henderson, 20, of Roswell.

“The nature and seriousness of the danger to the victim is extremely significant in this case as the attack appeared to be without warning, without basis and extreme in its physical violence,” Hudson said.

Henderson is charged with two counts each of criminal sexual penetration and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, as well as one count of interference with communications, in the Oct. 6 sexual assault of his former girlfriend. He is believed to have later intentionally crashed a vehicle just outside of Roswell, which was found unoccupied.

The Chaves County Sheriff’s Office later arrested Henderson at the Sunrise Medical Center Oct. 9 after he contacted Sheriff Mike Herrington to turn himself in. Henderson then refused to speak with police on the advice of legal counsel.

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Taylor Jaggers, deputy district attorney, argued the nature of the crime, statements Henderson reportedly made after his arrest asking where his former girlfriend was, and his reported intentional crashing of a vehicle all demonstrate that Henderson represents a danger to the victim, the public and himself.

She added Henderson at the time of the offense was out on conditions of release while awaiting sentencing on a charge of conspiracy to tamper with evidence in relation to the 2018 homicide of Garland Troy Berg.

Ira Shiflett, Henderson’s attorney, asked the court that his client be released while awaiting trial. He argued conditions of release could be imposed, such as requiring that Henderson wear an ankle monitor.

Hudson, when he announced his decision, said that Henderson was supposed to have been wearing an ankle monitor on Oct. 6 as part of his release, something he did not end up doing.

Detective Mark Meraz of the Roswell Police Department was the only witness called at the hearing. No witnesses were called by Shiflett, nor did the defense cross-examine Meraz.

Under questioning by Jaggers, Meraz said the woman told him Henderson had visited her home that day. Though they had broken up and Henderson no longer lived with her, she let Henderson in because he had left some of his personal items at the house, including paperwork that could be used to obtain an ID card.

She told police that following some conversation between the two in the kitchen, Henderson became frustrated over matters related to their former relationship.

Meraz testified that in the woman’s statement, she said she was walking away when Henderson came up behind her, wrapped his arm around her neck, and choked her to the point she lost consciousness.

When she awoke, Henderson reportedly sexually assaulted her twice and at one point, Henderson grabbed a machete she kept in the house and began striking her with it all over her body.

When people began texting her, wondering if she was OK since she had not come into work on time, Henderson, posing as the victim, texted them back to say she was fine.

Henderson then texted one of his own relatives using the woman’s phone, saying he had hurt her. Henderson’s relative later went to the house and took the woman to the hospital but left the hospital after she was admitted.

The relative later that day told police he believed Henderson intentionally crashed a vehicle while leaving Roswell, heading north on U.S. 285 toward Vaughn.

According to Meraz, the relative had been speaking to Henderson on the phone when he heard a loud crash on the other end. New Mexico State Police later discovered a rolled-over and unoccupied vehicle on U.S. 285 at mile marker 118, which they learned was owned by Henderson.

Meraz testified that after he took the statement of the victim, a search warrant was executed on her residence.

He testified that in the house, he found several items of evidentiary value including traces of fresh blood, a sheath for a machete, clothes found near the bathroom matching those the woman said she was wearing at the time of the attack, a machete on the bed and a tenant document on a table with Henderson’s name on it.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.