Judge Grants Continuance

Judge Grants Continuance

The man accused of embezzling the money he had collected for information about the death of Erica Smith in 2003 will have to wait another month before learning if he will get his day in court.

Roosevelt Henderson was scheduled to appear before Judge Burke F. McCahill Friday, June 29, for a hearing on the plea withdrawal motion filed by his counsel in May, but a day earlier the hearing was continued until Aug. 1. In February, Henderson entered an Alford plea, where a defendant pleads guilty, but maintains his or her innocence.

Jennifer Wexton, one of Henderson’s attorneys, said they were still waiting on information from the Sheriff’s Office regarding the timeline of the investigation and various bank statements from Middleburg Bank, where the reward funds were kept.

"It was apparent we weren’t going to have what we needed so it made sense to go ahead and continue the case," Wexton said about the early hearing. "And the commonwealth had no problem with continuing it."

HENDERSON IS accused of taking money from two different accounts he set up after Erica Heather Smith disappeared and her body was later discovered. The case remains unsolved.

One of the accounts was for a reward for anyone with information about the case. The second account was for a foundation, intended to be used for a possible educational scholarship or other fund in Erica's name.

In August, a judge found there was enough evidence to move forward with the embezzlement case, but did not support the second charge of money laundering that Henderson was also facing. In September, Henderson was indicted by a grand jury on the embezzlement charge.

Several weeks ago, Henderson retained new counsel, Joe Ritenour, replacing attorney Raymond Kline. Ritenour filed the motion for the Alford plea withdrawal.

If he is found guilty, Henderson faces a range of possible sentences, from up to one year in the county jail and a fine of $2,500 to up to 20 years in a state prison.

WEXTON SAID she does not expect anything else to come up in the next month that would require another continuance.

"He won’t be sentenced [at the August hearing], but we will hear the ruling on the motion," Wexton said. "We will move forward from there"

Henderson will appear in Loudoun’s Circuit Court in Leesburg, Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 9 a.m.