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.

 

SportsPlus

Berrien County

South Bend man sentenced on weapon charge

Business

PHOTO STORY: Pitmasters fire up fun at annual Dowagiac BBQ Competition

Community News

Annual Dowagiac Summer Festival sets attendance record

Cass County

Man dies in reported Juno Lake drowning

Community News

Local athletes raising money for AAU Junior Olympics

Cass County

Edwardsburg to consider rental fees for Gunn Park shelter

Business

Niles manufacturer celebrates expansion, rebrand with ribbon-cutting ceremony

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Union Schools welcomes new superintendent

Buchanan

Thistledown & Row: Downtown Buchanan building transforming into restaurant, bar

Brandywine Education

Brandywine Jazz Collective to host fundraiser concert July 27

Education

Edwardsburg Public Schools to offer before, after school care

Cass County

Police seize 21 guns, ammunition in Niles traffic stop

Community News

Annual Ed’s Open Header Cruise set for July 25

Business

Niles Rite Aid to close

Crime/Court

South Bend man sentenced on weapons charge

Business

Red Shoe Realty to host grand opening, open house

Cass County

PHOTO STORY: Vandalia hosts annual Underground Railroad Days

Crime/Court

Niles man gets jail time for carrying concealed weapon

Business

Dowagiac Summer Festival, BBQ Competition arrives this weekend

Cass County

Edwardsburg man gets time served for larceny

Community News

Dowagiac DART launches on-demand transit service

Cassopolis

Cassopolis honors 2024 Miss Cassopolis Court

Community News

Niles, township approve revised SMCAS articles

Community News

Creating culture: 100+ community members participate in downtown art project