- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

At 9:00 A.M. this morning, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Durke Thompson is scheduled to preside at a probation violation hearing for accused killer Shawn Henderson.

Henderson, a convicted robber, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Lindsay Harvey, 25, whose body was found April 13 near a dumpster in Gaithersburg. Police believe Miss Harvey came home at around 1:00 A.M. that morning. She got out of her car and walked toward her apartment but never made it inside. Someone ambushed and robbed Miss Harvey in the parking lot and shot her to death. Tips from the public led police to Henderson, who was arrested two days later. Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Henderson is a “danger to the community” and that Miss Harvey’s blood was found on his clothing. While his guilt or innocence in the Harvey murder has yet to be determined, this much is clear: Henderson is a dangerous criminal who would not have been on the street if it had not been for Judge Thompson’s generous sentencing policies.

In 2000, Henderson pleaded guilty to a pair of violent armed robberies and a violent attempted robbery in Montgomery County. On Dec. 8, 1999, he ambushed a man who was unloading items from the trunk of his car at an apartment complex in Montgomery Village. Henderson came up behind the man, grabbed his forehead with one hand and held a knife to his throat with the other and demanded money. The victim offered no resistance and Henderson took $50 from his wallet. But before he left the parking lot, Henderson pulled his knife and slashed the man’s throat, narrowly missing his jugular vein, the robbery victim told the Gazette newspapers. The following night, Henderson struck again, this time targeting two women who spent time at their cars after parking. At around 6:45 P.M., he slit the throat of a woman outside her Gaithersburg apartment. Less than 90 minutes later, he stabbed a woman in the neck outside her apartment in Germantown.

In September 2000, Judge Thompson sentenced him to 12 years in prison - about four years each for robbery attempts in which Henderson stabbed or slashed people’s throats. In October 2004, Judge Thompson reduced the sentence to 10 years. Henderson was paroled in 2006 after serving approximately six years behind bars for three heinous crimes. Today he sits in the Montgomery County Detention Center awaiting trial for Miss Harvey’s murder.

Judge Thompson’s judicial career has been marred by controversy. In 2000, when sentencing a child molester to jail, Judge Thompson appeared to suggest that his 11-year-old victim was partly to blame for inviting the man into her bedroom. Judge Thompson told the child “it takes two to tango.” In 2001, Judge Thompson permitted a man convicted of abusing his stepdaughter when she was 9 and 10 to return to live in the same house when he got out of jail. The girl became pregnant by her stepfather at age 15 after he moved back home. A few years ago, Judge Thompson defended himself in an interview with The Washington Post, saying: “What do you want me to say, that I’m omniscient?” adding “people violate probation all the time.” That is the kind of thinking that lets dangerous predators like Shawn Henderson loose on the streets of Montgomery County.

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