Kennath Henderson was sentenced to death by the State of Tennessee for a murder committed during an attempted prison escape. According to court documents Kennath Henderson would shoot and kill Fayette County Deputy Tommy Bishop, 43. Kennath Henderson girlfriend had smuggled the gun into the jail. Kennath Henderson would be convicted and sentenced to death.
Kennath Henderson 2021 Information
Kennath Henderson More News
At the time of the events giving rise to this case, the appellant, Kennath Henderson, was incarcerated at the Fayette County Jail serving consecutive sentences for felony escape and aggravated burglary. On April 26, 1997, as the appellant was planning an escape from jail, he had a .380 semi-automatic pistol smuggled into the jail through his girlfriend. A couple of days later, the appellant requested dental work on a tooth that needed to be pulled, and an appointment was made for May 2 with Dr. John Cima, a dentist practicing in Somerville. Dr. Cima had practiced dentistry in Somerville for more than thirty years, and he had often seen inmate patients. In fact, this was not the appellant’s first visit to see Dr. Cima.
On May 2, 1997, Deputy Tommy Bishop, who was serving in his official capacity as a transport officer for the Fayette County Sheriff’s office, took the appellant and another inmate, Ms. Deloice Guy, to Dr. Cima’s Office in a marked police car. Upon their arrival at the dentist’s office, Dr. Cima placed the appellant and Ms. Guy in separate treatment rooms, and each patient was numbed for tooth extraction. Deputy Bishop remained in the reception area and talked with the receptionist during this time.
When Dr. Cima and his assistant returned to the appellant’s treating room to begin the tooth extraction, the appellant pulled out his .380 pistol. Dr. Cima immediately reached for the pistol, and he and the appellant struggled over the weapon. During this brief struggle, Dr. Cima called out for Deputy Bishop, and the deputy hurried back to the treatment room. Just as the deputy arrived at the door, the appellant regained control of the pistol and fired a shot at Deputy Bishop, which grazed him on the neck. Although not fatal, this shot caused the deputy to fall backwards, hit his head against the doorframe or the wall, and then fall to the floor face down, presumably unconscious.
The appellant then left the treating room and came back with the receptionist in his custody. The appellant reached down and took Deputy Bishop’s pistol, and he took money, credit cards, and truck keys from Dr. Cima. The appellant then ordered Dr. Cima and the receptionist to accompany him out of the building, but just before he turned to leave the building, the appellant went back to the treatment room, leaned over Deputy Bishop, and shot him through the back of the head at point-blank range. The deputy had not moved since first being shot in the neck moments earlier and was still lying face-down on the floor by the door to the treatment room when the appellant fatally shot him.
Once outside of the office, the appellant was startled by another patient, and Dr. Cima and his receptionist were able to escape back into the office.1 Once inside, Dr. Cima locked the door and called the police. The appellant, in the meantime, stole Dr. Cima’s truck and drove away at a slow speed so as not to attract any attention to himself. When police officers began to follow him, the appellant sped away, and eventually drove off the road and into a ditch. The officers took the appellant into custody, and upon searching the truck, they found the murder weapon, Deputy Bishop’s gun, and personal items taken from Dr. Cima’s office.
On May 13, 1997, Kennath Henderson was indicted by a Fayette County Grand Jury in a ten-count indictment, which alleged one count of premeditated murder, three counts of felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnaping, and one count of attempted especially aggravated kidnaping, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and felonious escape. After three continuances, the appellant pled guilty on the day of trial to all of the charges except for the three counts of felony murder.