Alabama woman gets life sentence for helping to kill husband's previous wife and family

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An Alabama judge sentenced a woman to life in prison after she aided her husband in killing his estranged pregnant wife and three members of her family, including two children, in 2015.

A jury convicted Rhonda Carlson, 48, of various counts of capital murder, including three counts of capital murder of a person under the age of 14, according to Madison County jail records.

Ronda Carlson. (Credit: Madison County Sheriff’s Office/AP)

Carlson avoided the death penalty by testifying against her husband, Christopher Henderson – who married Carlson without divorcing his previous wife – and admitting to helping him carry out the brutal attack, though she denied killing anyone.

“She certainly acknowledges and accepts responsibility for her portion and the crime, which is why we’ve agreed to a plea,” Carlson’s attorney, Erin Atkins, told WHNT-TV. “She acknowledges that she was involved, she acknowledges that she had a part to play and that she can be held legally responsible for the deaths based on Alabama law.”

Christopher Henderson. (Credit: Madison County Sheriff’s Office/AP)

A judge sentenced Henderson to death on Oct. 14 after a jury convicted him in July of the shooting and stabbing deaths of his estranged wife, Kristin Smallwood; her unborn daughter; her 8-year-old son, Clayton Chambers; her 1-year-old nephew, Eli Sokolowski; and her mother, Carol Jean Smallwood.

Authorities found the four bodies inside a burned house in August 2015, less than a week after Kristin Smallwood filed for a restraining order against Henderson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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