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Psych evaluation ordered for Tuscola murder suspect

Joshua M. Henderson

Tuscola Police, Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, and State Police are on scene at 400 S. Parke St. after securing the area after a fatal stabbing at around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13. Photo by Dominik Stallings.

By Dominik Stallings

Joshua M. Henderson, 42, was charged with first-degree murder after he was arrested at 2:34 p.m. on March 13 at 400 S. Parke St. in Tuscola. One person died of stab wounds.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Henderson allegedly stabbed or sliced Phillip B. Sanders three or four times in his neck, chest, and hand, killing him.

Henderson was denied pre-trial release due to posing a risk to the public and himself. He will be in custody until his next court date at 1 p.m. on April 15.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Tuscola Officer Dalton Donnals approached the apartment building at 2:31 p.m. He said Henderson began yelling at him as he approached him, appearing shirtless with blood on his chest. He reportedly concealed an 8-inch knife covered in blood behind his arm.

Donnals wrote that he drew his firearm and ordered Henderson to drop the knife, which Henderson did. After ordering Henderson out of the apartment, Henderson became aggressive and moved toward Donnals while balling his fist. Donnals used his taser on Henderson twice. The two struggled and fought for two minutes until Donnals was able to hold Henderson on his stomach until his backup, Lt. Heath Thurston, arrived.

Sanders was later found dead on top of the stairwell in the apartment building. Douglas County Coroner Lisa Edwards, Tuscola Chief of Police Craig Hastings, and Sheriff Nathan Chaplin later arrived on the scene to assist.

Henderson appeared in court on March 14 through Zoom for his detention hearing. According to a statement by Chaplin, Henderson was considered a danger to staff and himself. He said Henderson referred to correctional officers as “demons.”

In the detention order, the court received reports of mental health instability. The document noted that Henderson said he had “an irresistible urge to inflict bodily harm, to ‘rip apart’ the victim.”

Chaplin wrote that Henderson intentionally urinated on an officer upon admission. In an email to Circuit Judge Kate Watson, Jail Administrator Kaitlin Rund described Henderson as “manic” and believes all law enforcement are the devil and that Armageddon is coming. She said she contacted a mental health facility in Austin, Texas, which prescribed medicine to Henderson that was found at the scene.

Chaplin also wrote that Henderson refused to cooperate with booking procedures, including medical information and a photo. According to Chaplin, Henderson allegedly tore out the camera in his holding cell shortly before his detention hearing.

Henderson was constrained for the detention hearing held over Zoom. Henderson appeared to yell at the court during the hearing, when he was read his rights. Watson said he appeared to be mentally unstable and unable to understand his rights or what was happening in court.

Henderson said he wanted to appeal his detention but did not understand how to do so. Due to his continued yelling and remarks at the court, Henderson was muted on Zoom for most of the hearing.

On March 15, Public Defender Kevin Nolan, who was appointed to represent Henderson, filed a motion for the appointment of a psychologist to examine Henderson. With no objection from State’s Attorney Robert Kosic, the court determined that “a bona fide doubt has been raised as to the defendant’s fitness to stand trial.”

The court also found that Henderson had a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, which resulted in a prison term. It is unclear when, where, or how long this term was.

Henderson was charged with two Class M felonies. One for alleged murder with intent to kill, and another for alleged murder with the probability to kill or injure. Watson said a potential sentence may result in 20-60 years in prison with no chance for parole for both charges, and up to a $25,000 fine for each charge.

Henderson was also charged with two Class 3 felonies; one for alleged aggravated battery with great bodily harm, and the other for alleged aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Both charges could result in five years in prison.

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