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Trove of physical evidence ties Henry to Fawn Twp. homicides
After state troopers rammed and disabled the car of fleeing double-murder suspect Paul Jackson Henry III, they discovered a trove of physical evidence linking Henry to a deadly Fawn Township home invasion, prosecutors said.
Jurors deciding Henry's fate were shown that evidence piece by piece the morning of Thursday, May 17, with state police Trooper James Fisher on the witness stand explaining each item.
There were four firearms — a .45-caliber Colt Combat Commander; a snub-nose .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver; a .44-caliber Taurus Magnum handgun with a long barrel; and a Remington 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun.
The seized evidence also included ammunition for those weapons, an 18-inch machete, several knives including a large tactical-style knife, rope, a balaclava-type mask, two rolls of duct tape, flashlights, a screwdriver, camping items and a gray hooded sweatshirt that purportedly belonged to Henry and had suspected blood on it.
Troopers found property in the car that had been stolen from victims during the Sept. 13, 2016, home-invasion robbery at Foday Cheeks' Brown Road farmhouse in Fawn Township. Those items included Cheeks' wallet, identification, credit cards and cash; Amy Eller's white leather purse with contents inside; and nine cellphones, some of which prosecutors say were stolen during the home invasion.
Victim's DNA on guns: On Thursday afternoon, jurors heard from Verity Wagner, a state police forensic DNA scientist who testified that Cheeks' DNA was found on both the .45 and the .38 handguns found in the Henrys' Nissan Altima after the police chase.
Wagner testified she found a mixture of Cheeks' DNA and Henry's DNA on the gray hooded sweatshirt found in the car. The survivors have testified Henry was wearing a gray hoodie while his wife was wearing a black hoodie.
Prosecutors have said blood was found on both guns and on Henry's sweatshirt.
It's 14 quindecillion times more likely that Cheeks and Henry contributed that DNA than any two other unrelated people, according to Wagner. That's the number 14 followed by 48 zeroes and by far exceeds the world's population. There are about 7.5 billion people in the world, according to the U.S. Census.
First assistant district attorney Jen Russell and York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, who are jointly trying the case, are expected to call a ballistics expert on Friday, May 17.
Russell has told jurors they will hear a ballistics match was made between at least one of the guns found in the Henrys' car and the double homicide scene.
The background: Russell told jurors during her opening statement last week that Henry and his wife, Veronique Henry, knocked on the door of Cheeks' home, and that Henry fatally shot resident Danielle Taylor, 26, in the neck as soon as she opened the door.
Russell said Henry walked into the home and was met in the dining room by Cheeks, at which point Henry fired six shots, hitting Cheeks "center mass" all six times. He then dragged Cheeks into a bedroom and fired one "finishing shot" into the man's head, she told jurors.
Veronique Henry came into the home behind her husband and held four people — Amy Eller, Eller's 14-year-old son, the son's 17-year-old friend and home resident Coren Clymer — at gunpoint while her husband searched the house for money and drugs, according to Russell.
Eller, Clymer and the teenage boys have all testified that they witnessed Henry repeatedly shoot Cheeks and drag him out of their view after Cheeks fell.
They also testified they were ordered to get on the floor, where Veronique Henry guarded them while reassuring them they wouldn't be killed. Eller and the teens told jurors that Veronique Henry held them at gunpoint; Clymer said she was unable to see a gun in the woman's hand.
Robbed: The Henrys stole Cheeks' wallet, Eller's purse and the cellphones of the victims before fleeing, according to prosecution testimony.
Testimony has revealed that Veronique Henry was sexually involved with Cheeks earlier in 2016 and lived with him for a time. Testimony has also indicated Cheeks was a heroin dealer and that Veronique Henry had stolen $700 from him.
Defense attorney Farley Holt has said Veronique Henry was a heroin addict. She also was a convicted heroin dealer.
She committed suicide by hanging herself in York County Prison two days after the double homicide, and one day after she and her husband were captured in Dauphin County following the police chase.
Death penalty: Henry, 41, of East Manchester Township, is charged with two counts each of first-, second- and third-degree murder, plus robbery. He's also charged with fleeing police and aggravated assault for the police chase.
If jurors convict Henry of first-degree murder, prosecutors will ask them to impose the death penalty.
At the time of his death, Cheeks was free on $25,000 bail, charged with two felony counts of dealing heroin.
Presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner has issued a gag order that prevents attorneys and others involved in the case from speaking publicly about the case until it's concluded.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.