Cathy Lynn Henderson (Texas prison photo)
AUSTIN (September 10, 2013)—Travis County prosecutors will not seek the death penalty in the capital murder retrial of Cathy Lynn Henderson, 56, whose conviction for killing an infant she was babysitting and then burying the body in a field in Central Texas was overturned in December.
If convicted, Henderson would face a life sentence without parole, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said.
The body of three-month-old Brandon Baugh was found on Feb. 8, 1994 in a wine cooler carton buried in a field outside of Temple.
The discovery came nearly three weeks after the child was first reported missing from his home in Pflugerville.
Advances in the field of pediatric injuries now call into question how the infant suffered the head injury that caused his death.
Henderson claims the infant slipped from her arms and fell to the floor of her home north of Austin.
She said she panicked and buried the body in a field outside of Temple before fleeing Texas.
A divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new trial in December for the women’s death row inmate.
Five judges on the court joined in the ruling, three dissented and one didn't participate.
Henderson came within two days of execution in June 2007 before winning a reprieve from the appeals court.
Her appeal centered on the testimony at her original trial of Dr. Roberto Bayardo, who was then the chief medical examiner in Travis County.
Henderson, after offering several accounts, told authorities the boy fell from her arms while she was answering the phone and hit his head on the floor.
She said she panicked and instead of calling authorities buried the boy.
During her trial, however, Bayardo testified that only a fatal blow could have caused the boy's injuries, but he later changed his mind and now says he can no longer be sure the infant’s death was intentional.
In May 2012 Travis County State District Judge Jon Wisser recommended that the appeals court vacate Henderson’s capital murder conviction and order a new trial, saying in light of Bayardo’s change of mind, no reasonable juror would convict her.
Prosecutors maintain that Henderson smashed the child's head with a blunt object while she was watching him and his older sister in her home in Plugerville.
She was arrested on Feb. 1, 1994 in Kansas City, Mo., where she was living under the name Patricia Keith.
After her arrest Henderson indicated she buried the child's body in a wooded area in Central Texas, but refused to draw a map for authorities.
Later, after meeting with a public defender, she did draw a detailed map showing the location of the infant's body, which the lawyer sent to an attorney in Austin who once represented the Henderson family in a legal matter.
Authorities obtained the map through a grand jury subpoena and recovered the boy's body on Feb. 8, 1994.