Woman Accused of Fatally Shooting Daughters, 5 and 7, Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Life in Prison

Woman faced either death or life in prison without parole, wanted to avoid jury trial

What to Know

  • Sarah Henderson pleaded guilty to killing her daughters, ages 5 and 7, as they slept, Nov. 1, 2017.
  • She'll spend the rest of her life in prison with no chance for parole.
  • In addition to two capital murder charges, Sarah faced charges of attempted murder and assault on a public servant.

Sarah Nicole Henderson, the East Texas woman accused of fatally shooting her two children in November 2017, struck a plea deal Wednesday where she'll avoid the death penalty and spend life behind bars.

NBC affiliate KETK-TV in Tyler reports 31-year-old Sarah Henderson pleaded guilty to two charges of capital murder in the deaths of her daughters, 7-year-old Kaylee and her 5-year-old half-sister Kenlie, and will spend the rest of her life in a state prison with no chance for parole.

In November 2017, according to statements made by her husband, Jacob Henderson, in a 911 call, Sarah fatally shot the girls in the head as they slept.

As Jacob spoke with 911 dispatchers, Sarah could be heard in the background asking, "What did I do, Lord? What did I do? What did I do? What did I do, God?"

In 2017, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said Sarah showed no remorse or "much emotion" when she confessed to the murders and was "just matter-of-fact" during her interview with police following her arrest. He added detectives learned she'd been planning the crime for a couple of weeks and had also intended to kill her husband.

According to the sheriff, Jacob called 911 at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 to report that his wife was suicidal. A second call was made minutes later to cancel the request, which canceled the EMS response, but sheriff's deputies still went to the residence. Deputies arrived at about 11:45 p.m. but left after the couple said they were fine and no one was in danger.

Hillhouse said Jacob called 911 nearly three hours later, at about 2:24 a.m. Nov. 2, to report that his wife woke him up and told him that she had shot both of her children.

"I didn't want to believe it and went in there and they were dead," he said in the recording.

Jacob, Hillhouse said, was not the father of the two girls. According to KETK, Jacob supported the plea deal reached Wednesday.

Sarah Henderson faced two charges of capital murder under the age of 10 (killing a child under the age of 10 is an automatic capital offense punishable by death or life in prison without parole) as well as an attempted murder charge for trying to shoot her husband and an assault on a public servant charge related to her arrest.

Since 2017, court records show repeated attempts by the defense to squash the death penalty as a punishment in this case, including unsuccessfully trying to show she was unfit to go to trial.

If the plea deal hadn't been reached Wednesday, Sarah's capital murder trial was expected to begin Aug. 5.

NBC 5's Don Peritz contributed to this report.

Contact Us