Man who killed sister gets 30 years

When questioned about what happened on the day he repeatedly stabbed his sister to death, Edward Hensley struggled to recount to the details of the that fatal summer afternoon.

The Edwardsburg man said that he and his sister, Martha Jean Sexton, got into an argument, which escalated to the point where Sexton decided to call for help. Hensley reacted by grabbing a folding knife, which he said he intended to use to cut the phone line.

“She got mad, and started hitting me on the top of the head with the phone,” he said. “She fell, hit my leg so I fell down with her. Then I stabbed her right there,” Hensley said, gesturing toward his side.

Hensley, 60, was sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison on charges of second-degree murder by Judge Michael Dodge, at the Cass County Circuit Courthouse Friday. Hensley had pleaded guilty to the charge Nov. 4, after having been found incompetent to stand trial in October due to mental illness.

According to the court, the stabbing occurred on June 29, at the home the two siblings shared on US-12. Hensley stabbed his sister 11 times in the neck, throat and back, after a fight broke out between the two when he accused her of hiding a bottle of peppermint schnapps he had purchased earlier that day.

Authorities later determined that Hensley had been under the influence of alcohol, Xanax and synthetic marijuana.

“He set the stage for his sister’s death by ignoring wisdom and mixing mental illness and alcohol into deadly cocktail,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “It was a combination he chose, and it was a combination that made it just easy enough for him to murder his own sister.”

According to Hensley’s attorney, the man suffers from seven different mental illnesses, which may have played a role in his violent actions. During his court mandated examination, the man claimed that he was implanted with a mind-controlling chip, and that his sister had been replaced with a former friend.

While the court found him incompetent to stand trial, he was not found to be criminally insane and could therefore still face prison for his crime.

During his remarks to the judge, Hensley expressed regret for his actions.

“I’m sorry I did it, and if there was something I could do to bring her back I would do it,” he said.

Also sentenced Friday:

•Dennis Pruitt, 58, of Cassopolis, to 365 days in jail for possession of firearms by a felon and possession of a short-barreled shotgun. Pruitt was arrested on March 28, after parole officers discovered an illegally modified shotgun at his residence. Pruitt was given 268 days credit for time served, and is eligible for early release after 300 days if his court fees are paid.

• Basil Rowe, 45, of Cassopolis, to 250 jails in jail and three years probation for meth related charges. Rowe was arrested on Aug. 13, after officers with the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team discovered traces of the substance while searching the residence, after receiving a tip that the home contained a meth lab. Rowe received 130 days credit for time served, and has the option of spending his remaining jail sentence at the county probation center to complete a drug treatment program.

• Adam Coleman, 33, of Edwardsburg, to a maximum term of 10 years in prison for causing an injury while operating while intoxicated. Coleman was arrested on Oct. 5 after colliding with an incoming car, injuring occupants Arnold and Phyllis Crihfield. Police discovered that, in addition to driving without a license or insurance, Coleman was under the influence of opiates and other substances at the time of the accident. He was sentenced as a habitual third offender.



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