Man who fled courtroom sentenced to prison, charged with escape

Friday, October 24, 2014

Michael Henderson, who escaped out of the courtroom after a jury found him guilty of attempted murder, was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

At his sentencing, Hennepin County District Court Judge William Koch noted that Henderson was in shackles and handcuffs and that there were five deputies in the courtroom and more inside the stairwells. In addition, Koch told Henderson that he had been charged with escape by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, but all of the hearings would be handled by a Ramsey County District Court judge, with the next hearing set for Oct. 31.

“I authorized you to be in shackles given your behavior last time,” Koch told the 25-year-old Minneapolis man. “I don’t expect anything to go wrong and nothing will go wrong.”

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell asked for a sentence of 237 months, pointing out that Henderson admitted pulling the trigger and the surveillance video showed the gun pointed at the three victims. However, the gun jammed.

“It’s amazing that no one was seriously injured or killed,” Russell said.

Henderson’s attorney said that the question was why did he decide to rob the Sam’s Club in Bloomington, where he had worked, and pull a gun on three people. Henderson was college-educated and studied abroad and it was a drug habit that changed him, his attorney said in arguing for less time in prison.

A jury acquitted Henderson of two counts, but convicted him of attempted murder, second-degree assault and aggravated robbery in the March 25 robbery of the Bloomington Sam’s Club. Koch sentenced Henderson to 153 months on the attempted murder and 48 months on the robbery, to be served consecutively, with the sentence on the assault to be served concurrently, for a total of 201 months in prison.

Henderson was charged last week with escape from custody.  He was listening to the jury verdicts on Sept. 18 when he suddenly bolted out of the courtroom on the 16th floor. Henderson ran down the stairway, used the elevator and emergency fire exits and was out of the government center in two minutes and 36 seconds, according to the criminal complaint. He was captured the next morning in South Minneapolis.

Henderson made a statement during his sentencing, occasionally crying, and was adamant that he didn’t pull the gun’s trigger until he had stepped back from his victims and aimed it at the door. He apologized to his victims, to his family and to society.

“Instead of being an American hero and being the American dream, I have become the American nightmare,” Henderson said.

Escape from custody complaint (pdf)