CROWN POINT — One of three men charged with the robbery and murder of a 24-year-old woman inside her Schererville apartment complex more than six years ago had his trial delayed for a ninth time Thursday.
Stephen L. Henderson, 31, of Gary, was scheduled for trial Oct. 22 on charges of murder and murder in perpetration of robbery in the death of Jacqueline Gardner.
Gardner was shot the night of May 19, 2012, during a strong-arm robbery outside her apartment door in the 8000 block of Alpine Lane. The woman's boyfriend said he watched a man choke his girlfriend from behind through his apartment door's peephole.
He called for help, but when he returned, Gardner was unconscious from a gunshot wound to the back. The man identified Henderson from a photo array as the person who choked Gardner.
Defense attorney Scott King filed a motion to continue Henderson's trial Thursday. He told Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan his law partner, Lakeisha Murdaugh, was expected to be lead counsel at trial, but she recently was diagnosed with an unexpected medical issue, which required the trial's delay.
Sullivan scheduled a new trial date for Jan. 7. A pretrial conference was scheduled for Dec. 13. She warned the trial would not be continued again.
Supervisory Prosecutor Aleksandra Dimitrijevic told Sullivan the state objected to the delay.
“(Gardner's) family needs this to be over,” she said.
Sullivan said she was sympathetic to the victim's family, but noted if they rushed to trial without Murdaugh a conviction could be overturned on arguments Henderson received ineffective counsel.
Dimitrijevic said she understood, but the family had been in this situation so many times. Henderson has had eight trial dates canceled since charges were filed in May 2012, according to court records. He was released from Lake County Jail in March 2015 on a $7,500 cash bond.
Henderson's co-defendants — William Blasingame III and Michael A. Craig Jr. — also remain charged in the murder. They have court hearings scheduled in early November.