A mother and son were sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for killing a witness to the robbery of a marijuana shop.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Ryan Stuart sentenced Tina Black, 51, and Terance Black, 28, on Feb. 21 after a jury convicted both of them Feb. 15 of “first-degree murder after deliberation” and “conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after deliberation” in the death of David Henderson.
“The Henderson family lost a good man … I think our community lost a very good man,” said Stuart in imposing sentences. “This was a crime that struck at the heart of the Henderson family and struck at the heart of our criminal justice system.”
District Attorney George Brauchler praised Henderson.
“David Henderson is someone who’s to be commended for the guts and the courage to come forward and do the right thing,” Brauchler said. “Terance and Tina Black, in this case, are evil people for having done exactly what they did – which was to silence him and protect.”
He added: “This is the nightmare scenario, and the great concern I have as someone who relies on good people in the community to talk about when crimes have been committed … I do not want them to come away from this case and feel like, man, it’s just not worth the risk.”
Henderson, 48, was shot and killed outside his Denver home on Oct. 12, 2016. Two months earlier, on Aug. 14, the Cure Dispensary at 6200 E. Yale Ave. was robbed at gunpoint.
Both Blacks were staying at a nearby hotel when the robbery occurred, and Henderson was hired by them to perform maintenance on the vehicle of a man they both knew.
Henderson was working on the man’s car when Terance Black and accomplices in the robbery arrived back at the hotel. Henderson saw them unload more than 440 pounds of stolen marijuana. He saw masks and gloves in Tina Back’s car.
Henderson called Denver police to tell them what he knew, saying he believed that the people involved in the robbery were gang members.
At some point about a month after the robbery, Terance Black and accomplices were identified, and the court mistakenly sent out the unredacted, full discovery evidence to every person involved in the case. Someone who got the records discussed Henderson’s involvement with Terance Black.
Terance Black and Tina Black planned Henderson’s murder after they saw he was a key witness.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Steers asked the court to “send a message” in sentencing Terance Black.
“The community spoke, and they said, ‘This system is more important that Terance Black.’ It’s important to send a message to the public … These are good people, and to have this happen to them is part of the tragedy of the case.”
The case “goes to the heart of who we are as a country and the heart of our judicial system,” he said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Darcy Kofol also asked for a message to be sent with the sentence of Tina Black.
David Henderson’s death “was calculated, orchestrated and planned by her and her son. … She still believes she is above this justice system, and she continues to make threats,” Kofol said. “This is a message to anyone who thinks to execute a witness in the future: This is not what we stand for here in Colorado. She committed the ultimate atrocity to our justice system.”
Tina Black was also convicted of “conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary” and “conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery,” The judge added 32 years to her life sentence.
David Henderson’s family was pleased with the trial’s outcome and spoke to the media afterwards.
Dave “was scared the whole time,” his younger sister said. “He didn’t have the proper protection, and, you know, it’s just a shame that his life got taken from trying to do the right thing.”
She added: “It’s important I go public and talk about it, because I want people to know they can’t get away with this. You should never threaten a witness and you should never murder a witness.”