Kayla Dezaray Hensley: Disabled teen's younger brother who slit her throat and left body by dumpster gets 16 years
Kayla, who was murdered on November 11, 2017, was found with severe lacerations to her neck, which reportedly had a canvas belt wrapped around it.
A teenager has admitted to murdering his specially-abled sister nearly three years after he slit her throat and killed her. 17-year-old Claude Henderson pleaded guilty to the murder of Kayla Dezaray Hensley, whose body was found by a North Carolina trailer park dumpster with her throat slit.
Kayla was murdered on November 11, 2017, and was found with severe lacerations to her neck, which reportedly had a canvas belt wrapped around it, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The deceased 18-year-old was deaf and had cerebral palsy, but despite her shortcomings, she successfully held a job at American Eagle Outfitters.
According to the report, dispatch received the initial call around 10:30 pm on a Saturday before sheriff's deputies responded to a mobile home park on Brinwood Drive in Weaverville at 10:42 p.m. Deputies said Henderson confessed to ending his sister's life during interrogation. An investigation determined Kayla had been murdered inside the family's home. Authorities recovered three knives, a box cutter, as well as the belt that was found around Hensley's neck.
“My heart goes out to Kayla’s mother Susan Maltry who has shown great emotional strength and grace in working with both investigators, court personnel, and my office throughout this unspeakable tragedy. I wish her peace and healing,” Buncombe District Attorney Todd Williams said in a press release after the sentencing.
Henderson, who was 14 at the time of Hensley's death, was initially charged with first-degree murder, which meant the state would have to prove "premeditation and deliberation beyond a reasonable doubt." Furthermore, he could have been released on parole after 25 years if convicted as he was a juvenile.
"But a defense-initiated forensic psychiatric evaluation questioned whether that was possible due to his youth, immaturity and other diagnostic factors," per the Citizen-Times. "Second-degree murder does not require proof of premeditation and deliberation."
Henderson was sentenced to 16 to 25 years in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections with credit for three years for the time he has already served since the 2017 killing. Following the tragedy, Hensley's mother released a statement to WLOS describing her as a hero for all she overcame in her life.
She was the best thing that ever happened to me and will be missed by so many. She is and will always be my hero. In 18 years she has [brought] me so much. Kayla was sunshine in every person she knew. And she didn’t know a stranger, she would talk up a storm to anyone.
She has overcome many downfalls in life. She was born with CP and was told she would never walk, she walked. She was born deaf, and had cochlear implants, and was able to hear. If anyone told her she couldn’t, she made sure to prove them wrong.
She was an amazing girl! There’s nothing I could say to make people see how truly blessed I was to have her in my life. She was and always will be my hero.
In May, we reported how a 15-year-old boy killed his sister with a hammer while she was sleeping following an argument over a computer tablet. The incident took place in the city of Taraz, northern Kazakhstan. The teenager, identified only as Aleksey, later admitted to killing his sister in her sleep after the argument. Local reports claimed the ten-year-old victim, identified only as Luda, was hammered to death in her sleep by her brother at her home. The girl was found with a broken skull and succumbed to her injuries before paramedics arrived at the scene.