Tenn. man pleads to lesser charge

Chad E. Henry

The family of a former Greene County woman who was killed when she was run over in what police called a “staged” highway accident is not satisfied with a deal that allowed her husband to plead guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Chad E. Henry, 41, of Henderson, was charged with first-degree homicide for the death of his wife, Kelly McCollum Henry, a former Holbrook resident, in a Christmas 2014 incident at the intersection of Highway 100 and Highway 69 in Decatur County, Tenn. He pleaded guilty last week in Decatur County Circuit Court to the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Henry told officers from the Tennessee Highway Patrol he and his wife were arguing when she jumped from their pickup truck and was run over by the vehicle. Believing his statements were inconsistent with evidence at the scene, police continued their investigation and later charged Henry with homicide.

Mary Ellen McCollum of Sycamore, Kelly Henry’s mother, said Monday her family was not happy with the plea.

“We’re not satisfied,” she said. “But they (prosecutors) said he might not get anything if we didn’t accept this.”

McCollum said they were told the case was difficult because there were no witnesses to the incident. Initially investigated as an accident, McCollum said, police also lacked evidence such as pictures of the accident scene.

The Decatur County prosecutor could not be reached Monday for comment because offices were closed for the holiday.

Chad E. Henry, who remains free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 16.

McCollum said the family has been told Henry could receive 8 to 12 years in jail for the offense. She said he also faces time for several driving under the influence charges.

“He’ll get something, but not what we wanted,” she said. The family had hoped he would receive a life sentence, she said.

Troopers who were called to the scene of the 9 a.m. crash had been told a passenger “jumped” out of a vehicle. When they arrived, Kelly Henry was unresponsive police said. They talked to Chad Henry but determined his statements were inconsistent with other evidence.

In a release issued earlier, police said they believed the accident had been “staged” to hide a crime and evidence from inside the vehicle indicated a struggle allegedly took place between Chad and Kelly Henry.

She died eight days later Jan. 1, 2015, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville from her injuries. Kelly Henry was 45 and a 1987 graduate of West Greene High School. She had worked in the West Greene High School cafeteria and was a funeral assistant at Rush Funeral Home in Rogersville.

Henry was initially charged with domestic-related aggravated assault, a third offense of driving under the influence and possession of prescription drugs, including Lortab and Xanax.

Following the investigation, in May 2015, Henry was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping, charges that were dismissed as part of his plea.

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