Double murderer's loved ones testify his children need him

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Family, friends, customers and an employee all testified Wednesday that convicted double murderer Paul Jackson Henry III is kind, courteous, responsible, hardworking and a loving family member, especially to his children.

"If he's not around, his kids' lives are (going to be) destroyed," his aunt, Norma Stone of Dillsburg, told jurors on Wednesday, May 23, during the penalty phase of Henry's murder trial.

A York County jury on Tuesday, May 22, found Henry guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of robbery for a Sept. 13, 2016, Fawn Township home invasion during which Henry fatally shot Danielle Taylor, 26, and heroin dealer Foday Cheeks, 31.

Paul Henry III

Jurors returned Wednesday to hear arguments about whether Henry, 41, of East Manchester Township, should be sent to death row for his crimes or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors chose to present no witnesses and instead are asking the jury to impose a death sentence based on evidence they heard during the guilt phase of Henry's murder trial.

Defense attorney Suzanne Smith called eight witnesses in an effort to convince jurors to spare Henry's life. The witnesses included his mother, Renee Henry, who testified he moved back to the family farm after his father died unexpectedly in 2002.

"He stepped in and took over," she said, adding that for her, "the bottom fell out of everything" when he was arrested after the murders.

Close with daughter: She said Henry has four children and that his youngest daughter is "the love of his life."

"They had a very special relationship," Renee Henry told jurors, and spent time together riding ATVs, fishing in a pond on the farm, bowling, camping and cooking.

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

She said her son, whom she calls "Bud," had grown up doing household chores as well as lots of work on the farm because "money was always tight."

She said Henry was "constantly bullied" at school because his clothes weren't the best and because he often smelled like the farm animals he cared for. She said he graduated from Northeastern Senior High School in 1994 then enlisted in the Marines the following spring.

Co-defense attorney Farley Holt on Wednesday read to jurors the long list of certifications and awards Henry received in the service before being honorably discharged.

Henry a 'mentor': Also testifying Wednesday was Henry's former employee, who told jurors he views his boss as a mentor who taught him work skills, gave him a chance when others wouldn't and put his children first.

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

Derek Shaffer testified he's known Henry for about a decade and started working for him around 2013.

"I was unemployed, looking for a job, trying to get back on my feet, and he gave me a job when no one else would," Shaffer told jurors. "He was willing to give me a second chance when no one else was."

Path to success: Shaffer said he was an unskilled laborer when Henry hired him.

"He taught me a trade and put me on a path to be successful," he said. "He's been a huge mentor."

Shaffer said he emulates Henry's work ethic, as well as his devotion to his children.

Shaffer told jurors that Henry's relationship with his wife, Veronique Henry, was unhealthy and that Henry was unable to stop her from taking drugs but still believed he could help her.

Veronique Henry

Veronique Henry, 32, also was arrested and charged with the murders of Taylor and Cheeks, who was her heroin dealer and former lover.

She hanged herself in York County Prison two days after the murders and a day after she and her husband were captured in Dauphin County after a police chase.

"He loved her and believed that her recent stay in jail was going to be enough" to keep her off drugs, Shaffer testified. "Unfortunately she got back into old habits."

More:Jury: Paul Henry guilty of 2 counts of first-degree murder, robbery

More:Alleged Fawn Twp. double murderer blames dead wife

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

'My cheerleader': Testifying by phone was Henry's half-sister, Trava Shumaker, of Indiana. She said they weren't raised together and only became close in 2006.

Paul Henry III

"The best way I can describe it is (that) he was my cheerleader," she said. "If I was having an issue, he would always ... help me through it. He's been there for me."

Shumaker said she doesn't know what she would do "if he wasn't here."

"I miss him like crazy already," she said.

Attorneys will give their closing arguments to jurors on Thursday morning, after they and presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner resolve outstanding legal issues.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.