LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The man convicted of killing a 30-year-old woman because investigators say he had just learned she had HIV said in an exclusive interview Thursday that he does not have the virus and that he regrets what he did.
Justin Welch, 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Monday, in connection to Elisha Henson's death last April.
"I had just taken almost an entire gram of meth and put it into a shot and just got completely spun out," Welch said. "Walked outside and it started raining really hard, and I just walked over and killed her. Like just, it was a snap moment."
Welch conducted the interview from inside the Angelina County Jail, where he is waiting for transport to a state prison unit.
Arrest affidavits state Welch became angry after he overheard Rosalind Smith talk to Henson about how she had HIV. Welch then strangled her to death and Smith is accused of dumping her body in a wooded area in Rivercrest.
"I am not a violent person; this might seem hard to believe," Welch said.
Welch said Thursday the two had been friends for almost a year and a half before Henson's death.
"And I was going to be going around and protect her and be around her," Welch said. "I have been friends with her for almost a year and a half."
He said the day Henson died they were getting high, and he snapped.
"It was the belt. I took it," Welch said. "I put it around her I swing her town to the ground and killed her by the tree."
He said it all happened so fast and was over in three minutes.
"Looking back on it now it was a weird experience," Welch said. "I can see myself doing it, but ..."
He said he had no motive. However, the records show Welch killed Henson because of her HIV status, but he said that had nothing to do with it.
"I wasn't intimate with her," Welch said. "When I first got here, I took an HIV test."
He took her life and he let her down as a friend.
"She was an amazing person," he said. "She was always helping people out."
Welch will be eligible for parole in 25 years.
"With all my back time I will be eligible for parole when I am 47 years old," Welch said. "I think if I was found not guilty or gotten a lighter sentence I would have continued my usage and I was scared of an other potential violent outbreak."
Welch now spends his days praying, playing chess and reading. He said the thought of life after prison has crossed his mind.
"I would like to volunteer for an organization like the human kindness organization or give back to the community in some way."