- Judy Henderson, 68, was jailed for 35 years in 1982 for the death of Harry Klein
- It was her boyfriend who pulled the trigger but she was the only one convicted
- The pair had lured Klein out of Springfield, Missouri, to rob him
- Henderson was set up by her boyfriend to take all of the blame and was sentenced to 50 years without parole in 1982
- She has been trying to have her sentence commuted ever since but was unsuccessful
- On Wednesday, Governor Eric Geitens granted her request and she was freed
- She already had children when she was jailed and she is now a grandmother
A grandmother who spent 35 years in jail for a murder she did not commit finally walked free on Wednesday after having her sentence commuted.
Judy Henderson, 68, was jailed in 1982 for the murder of jeweler Harry Klein after luring him to out of town to rob him.
It was her boyfriend, Greg Cruzen, who pulled the trigger but he was never convicted and instead paid witnesses at Henderson’s trial to say she had acted alone.
She was sentenced to 50 years in jail without the possibility of parole and had been seeking clemency from the Governor’s office for decades.
Her pleas went unanswered until this week when Governor Eric Greitens, who took office in January, took action.
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Judy Henderson (center) cried as she walked out of the Chillicothe Correctional Center on Wednesday after 35 years inside for a murder she did not commit. She was joined by friends and family and got into a waiting limousine
Henderson wept into the arms of a loved one as she made her way out of the prison
Through tears, she shouted jokingly to her friends who were still inside: ‘That was fun girls!’
In 1981, Henderson and Cruzen lured Klein away from his jewelry store in Springfield to rob him.
She was the bait and convinced him to get into a car with her to drive to the outskirts of town.
Once out of the way, Cruzen shot him three times in an armed robbery. They wanted to steal items of jewelry he had on him.
Both Cruzen and Henderson were later arrested and charged with murder but he lied and told investigators his girlfriend acted alone.
In 1981, Henderson was charged with the murder of a jeweler who she lured to the outskirts of town to rob him. Her boyfriend shot the man three times, killing him, and she was blamed. She is pictured before she was jailed
He then paid inmates in the jail where Henderson was awaiting trial to lie to prosecutors and say she had confessed to carrying out the killing along.
He sided with Cruzen and never informed Henderson about a plea deal prosecutors offered her which would have seen her spend just 10 years behind bars.
Because of the bought false testimony of the inmates they paid off, Henderson was never called as a witness at Cruzen’s trial and he was acquitted.
He is believed to have left Missouri in the early 1990s and has been living in Oklahoma ever since.
McCullin died years ago.
While fighting from behind bars to have her sentence and conviction overturned, Henderson said she became a ‘model’ inmate.
Since being jailed in 1982, Henderson has been fighting for release. She is pictured in one of the many periodic booking photos taken during her 35 year imprisonment
She learned how to train therapy dogs, worked as an exercise instructor and even became a licensed paralegal.
She already had children when she was jailed and she said they were what motivated her to keep appealing for release.
On Wednesday, as she emerged from prison in a new outfit to a waiting limousine, Henderson cried: ‘It happened, it finally happened.’
Governor Greitens announced his decision in a press release on Wednesday.
‘Commuting Judy Henderson’s sentence to time served—more than 35 years—is the right thing to do,’ he said.
Erven the prosecutor who tried the case in the 1980s welcomed the decision.
‘I handled thousands of criminal cases during my time as a prosecutor.
‘Judy’s case is the first time I have supported clemency for someone I prosecuted,’ Thomas Mountjoy said.