Convicted Tulsa police officer asks 10th Circuit for new trial
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
5/22/12 at 3:40 PM
Convicted former Tulsa police officer Jeff Henderson made a request Monday in a federal appeals court asking for a new trial.
Henderson, 39, was convicted in August on two counts of civil rights violations and six counts of perjury in a trial that also included Tulsa Police officer Bill Yelton. Henderson is currently serving a 42-month prison sentence in South Dakota. Yelton was acquitted.
In an opening brief filed in the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Henderson’s attorney claims multiple mistakes were made during the trial.
The brief claims the court made errors related to testimony from an FBI agent concerning the location of Henderson’s cell phone when phone calls were placed. The testimony indicated that Henderson was not in a location he claimed to be when calls were made from the phone.
The brief also claimed error by the court when Henderson was denied a motion for mistrial after the prosecution introduced “extremely prejudicial testimony concerning an alleged sexual affair.” Henderson’s filing claims the prosecution violated a judge’s order to avoid pursuing testimony that addressed an alleged affair.
Henderson was never accused or charged with any crime related to the alleged affair referenced at his trial. A juror, contacted by the Tulsa World after the trial, said the testimony given by the FBI agent was key to Henderson’s finding of guilt with eight convictions.
Henderson’s filing for an appeal hearing claims the judge made a mistake allowing rebuttal testimony from the prosecution and did not perform “gate-keeping responsibilities” by first requiring the witness to be qualified as an expert.
In another of the filing’s claims, the court was mistaken by rejecting the defense’s request for judicial inquiry into juror misconduct and possible external influence.
Henderson was hired by the Tulsa Police Department in 1995. He was acquitted on 45 counts of perjury, civil rights violations, drug conspiracy and witness tampering.
A federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent began as early as 2008 and resulted in charges against six current or former Tulsa police officers and a federal agent, as well as accusations of criminal behavior against five unindicted officers.
Additionally, at least 44 people have been freed from prison or had their cases modified because of civil rights violations or potential problems with their cases.