Sunday, August 10, 2008
"This Ain't Jesus, This is Satan"
Florida governor Charlie Crist recently asked for a list of death row inmates who have "served the longest or committed the most heinous crimes.” Richard Henyard [pictured] is one of five scheduled to die in the next few months. Unless one of his last-ditch appeals is successful, he will be given a lethal cocktail on September 23. “When you look at the horrific nature of this crime,” Crist said, “it lets you know that the penalty he will receive is certainly justified. [It is] unimaginable that any human being could carry out such a horrendous act.”
On Saturday night, January 30, 1993, Dorothy Reid Lewis walked out of Winn-Dixie in Eustis, Florida holding two bags of groceries. Her daughters, seven-year-old Jamilya and three-year-old Jasmine, walked by her side. As they headed toward their car, they paid no attention to the two teenage boys who began following them.
Lewis had seen tragedy in her life. Three years before, her husband had died. Her family and her strong religious faith were her greatest consolation. In fact, she’d bought the groceries so she could make her well-liked strawberry pretzel salad for a church potluck dinner the next day.
She placed the groceries in the backseat of the car, then opened the front passenger door. Her children got in. As Lewis walked around the back of her Chrysler Fifth Avenue, Alfonza Smalls, 14, edged up beside her. He lifted his shirt to show her the butt of a pistol in his waistband. “Don’t say nothin’ and get in the car,” Smalls ordered.
Lewis thought briefly about trying to escape. But she could never leave her children. She climbed into the back seat.
“Can I get my children back here?” she asked. Smalls nodded. Jamilya and Jasmine quickly crawled over the front seat and piled in beside their mother. Smalls got in on the passenger side and eighteen-year-old Richard Henyard climbed into the driver’s seat. Henyard started the car and began driving out of town.
Lewis whispered to the girls to jump out of the car if she opened the door. But it was going too fast and she never got the chance.
A court document describes what happened next: “The Lewis girls were crying and upset, and Smalls repeatedly demanded that Ms. Lewis ‘shut the girls up.’ As they continued to drive out of town, Ms. Lewis beseeched Jesus for help, to which Henyard replied, ‘This ain’t Jesus, this is Satan.’ Later, Henyard stopped the car at a deserted location and ordered Ms. Lewis out of the car. Henyard raped Ms. Lewis on the trunk of the car while her daughters remained in the back seat. Ms. Lewis attempted to reach for the gun that was lying nearby on the truck. Smalls grabbed the gun from her and shouted, ‘You’re not going to get the gun, bitch!’
“Smalls also raped Ms. Lewis on the trunk of the car. Henyard then ordered her to sit on the ground near the edge of the road. When she hesitated, Henyard pushed her to the ground and shot her in the leg. Henyard shot her at close range three more times, wounding her in the neck, mouth, and middle of the forehead between her eyes. Henyard and Smalls rolled Ms. Lewis’s unconscious body off to the side of the road and got [back] in the car.”
Henyard drove away from the scene. In the back seat, Jamilya and Jasmine were crying and calling for their mother. Henyard screamed at them, telling them to “shut up.” When the frightened girls continued to cry, Henyard stopped in a secluded area. Getting out of the car, he lifted Jasmine from her seat and shot her through the eye, killing her. Then he shot Jamilya in the head. Henyard and Smalls threw the lifeless bodies over a fence into a patch of tall weeds. Driving back to town, they began bragging to friends about their crimes.
After lying unconscious for several hours, Lewis awoke. She knew she had to get help, but was afraid to stop passing cars because she thought her assailants might be returning. She staggered along the side of the road, hiding in bushes every time a car passed. After walking a mile, she came to a house where the residents called police. An EMT unit quickly arrived and Dorothy Lewis was rushed to an Orlando hospital.
Henyard and Smalls drove the Chrysler around Eustis for more than a day. After learning that there was a reward for the killers of the two children, Henyard worked out a plot to get it. He went to the police claiming he’d seen the crime go down but insisted he wasn’t involved. Alfonza Smalls was one of the participants, he said. Cops spotted blood on his clothes and shoes and immediately became suspicious.
The blood was tested for DNA and matched all three victims. DNA from a rape kit performed on Lewis matched his semen. There was no doubt about his guilt. Henyard and Smalls were arrested, tried, and convicted of First Degree murder. Because he was only 14, Smalls was given a life sentence. Henyard received the death penalty.
Henyard began committing crimes early on. When he was seven, he tried to burn down his god-mother’s house. From that point on, he became an inveterate thief. After several arrests, he learned that the criminal justice system was lenient with juveniles. He quit school at 16 and sponged off friends and relatives when he wasn’t stealing from them.
Dorothy Lewis survived her ordeal. Doctors attached four metal plates and 28 screws in her head. She lost her sense of smell and taste. She suffered severe depression and post traumatic stress. But Lewis was determined to overcome her adversity. She began taking college courses and earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. For the last thirteen years, she has been a teacher in the Lake County school system. She re-married and has a small child. In addition to her job as an educator, Lewis is pastor of a church.
Recalling that dreadful day, Lewis said she begged Henyard and Smalls not to rape her in front of her girls. But they cursed her and continued their despicable acts. Once she was raped, she said, “I saw [Henyard] was going to shoot me, so I started fighting like a wildcat.” When asked how she survived, her sister called it a “miracle of God.”
Posted by Robert A. Waters at 2:17 AM