Trial to begin for suspended prosecutor in Alabama
Oct. 17, 2017
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A trial is set to begin Tuesday on charges that a suspended prosecutor in Alabama's largest county committed perjury.
Charles Henderson is accused of giving false testimony in a 2016 divorce case in which he served as guardian ad litem, meaning that he represented the interests of the divorcing couple's child.
The woman in the case was working on Henderson's campaign for Jefferson County District Attorney before he entered the case and later married him. The charges allege he lied about whether he and the woman were romantically involved while Henderson was supposed to be representing the child's interests.
Al.com reports that Henderson's wife said in a Monday hearing she wouldn't testify against her husband as jury selection began. Assistant Attorney General Matt Hart told a judge the state may challenge the validity of the couple's marriage.
Henderson was indicted Jan. 13 after being elected district attorney. He wasn't allowed to assume the office because of the pending charge.
A Democrat, Henderson defeated longtime Republican District Attorney Brandon Falls in November. State officials, though, say the case developed from concerns that rose to the Alabama Bar Association and isn't politically motivated.
At the divorce trial, Henderson testified, and evidence surfaced that he and the mother were in a romantic relationship, according to court records.
Former husband Charbel Akl said private investigators he hired had spotted Henderson staying overnight at the woman's apartment twice in August and once in September before the trial.
According to the transcript of that hearing, Henderson said the former Ms. Akl had been campaigning for him since September or October 2015. Akl's attorney then asked Henderson whether he had spent the night at her apartment since she had been campaigning for him. He twice said "no."
Henderson and his attorneys have argued that Henderson did not lie — that he and future wife didn't become romantically involved until July of 2016, after Henderson already had been removed as guardian.
After the divorce was granted, state prosecutors expressed concern that Henderson and the former Ms. Akl would get married, meaning she couldn't be forced to testify. Jefferson County Probate Court records show Henderson married the woman Sept. 7 in Chambers County.
If acquitted, Henderson could immediately file to be reinstated as district attorney.
Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews