DA wrapping up double-murder death-penalty case

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Prosecutors on Friday said they've likely called their last witness before resting their case against accused double murderer Paul Jackson Henry III.

But that witness — state Trooper Daniel Weldon, lead investigator in the Fawn Township home-invasion double slaying — remains on cross-examination by defense attorney Farley Holt.

Veronique Henry and Paul Henry in happier times.

During a detailed and lengthy cross-examination of Weldon on Friday, May 18, presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner asked Holt how much longer he thought he'd be.

"At least an hour," Holt told the judge, which prompted a quiet groan or two from the gallery and looks of exasperation on the faces of at least three jurors.

Holt said he'd finish up with Weldon on Monday morning, after which he and co-counsel Suzanne Smith would present the defense's case.

Holt estimated the defense would conclude its case the morning of Tuesday, May 22.

That means jurors could begin deliberating by Wednesday morning or perhaps by Tuesday afternoon.

Death penalty: If jurors convict Henry of first-degree murder, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday will ask them to impose the death penalty.

Foday Cheeks was fatally shot inside his Fawn Township home during a robbery Sept. 13, 2016, police said.
(Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Also Friday, jurors heard from forensic scientists who linked three guns found in Henry's possession to the scene of the double homicide.

As part of that testimony, the jury heard that three bullets taken from the body of victim Foday Cheeks came from a .45-caliber Colt Combat Commander and that spent shell casings tied two other guns to the scene.

Earlier in the week, jurors learned that Cheeks' blood was found on two of those guns as well as on both cuffs of a gray sweatshirt that prosecutors say Henry was wearing when he allegedly gunned down Cheeks and Danielle Taylor in Cheeks' rented farmhouse on Brown Road on Sept. 13, 2016.

Taylor, 26, of Spring Grove, had recently moved into Cheeks' home with another young woman, Coren Clymer. Testimony has revealed Cheeks was a heroin dealer and that both women used heroin.

Paul Henry III

The background: First assistant district attorney Jen 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 Paul Henry fatally shot Taylor in the neck as soon as she opened the door.

Testimony has revealed the Henrys either had to step over or around the dying woman to get into the house.

Russell said Paul 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, Clymer, Eller's 14-year-old son and the son's 17-year-old friend — 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 Paul Henry repeatedly shoot Cheeks and drag him out of their view after Cheeks fell.

Danielle Taylor, 26, of Spring Grove, was fatally shot inside a Fawn Township home during a home-invasion robbery on Sept. 13, 2016.

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.

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 she had stolen $700 from him.

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.

More:Trove of physical evidence ties Henry to Fawn Twp. homicides

More:Teen who saw double murder: 'My life flashed before my eyes'

More:Eyewitness says she watched Henry fatally shoot Fawn Twp. man

More:Death-penalty double-murder trial: Court clashes, gag order

The charges: 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.

Veronique Henry

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 levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.