Witness at Houston County trial: Suspect held victim's shoulders - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Witness at Houston County trial: Suspect held victim's shoulders as Mobley beat her

James Henderson (Source: Houston County Jail) James Henderson (Source: Houston County Jail)
Robert Mobley Jr. (Source: Houston County Jail) Robert Mobley Jr. (Source: Houston County Jail)
Brenna Theuer (Source: Houston County Jail) Brenna Theuer (Source: Houston County Jail)
Vanessa Melson (Source: Facebook) Vanessa Melson (Source: Facebook)

Editor's note: This story contains graphic and sexual content that may be disturbing to some of our viewers.

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - The second day of James “Eddy” Henderson's aggravated kidnapping trial began with witness testimony from the person who had reported Vanessa Melson missing in 2015. 

Henderson, of Crockett, was arrested in connection to Vanessa Melson’s brutal beating death in 2015. Henderson was indicted on a first-degree aggravated kidnapping charge back in May of 2016.

If Henderson is found guilty of aggravated kidnapping he faces a punishment range of five to 99 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

On Aug. 25, a Houston County jury needed only 30 minutes to find Robert David Mobley Jr. Mobley guilty of first-degree aggravated kidnapping in connection to Melson’s death. Mobley’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Melissa Adams described herself to the jurors as Melson's best friend. Adams filed the missing person report after failing to communicate multiple times with Melson on Facebook. Adams made it clear that this was a form of communication that she and Melson used daily. 

The second witness of the day was Dan Mcelhaney, the Grapeland police investigator who had conducted the missing person's search for Melson. 

Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar focused on the 2015 meeting Mcelhaney had had with Henderson and Brenna Theuer regarding the night Robert Mobley and Melson had visited Henderson's house. 

According to Mcelhaney, Theuer and Henderson's account of that night was the same. They both agreed that they believed Melson to be alive on July 16. 

The next witness brought forward was Houston County investigator Jerry Kaelin. Kaelin was one of the investigators in Melson's murder case. 

The defense questioned Kaelin about Theuer's "reputation of truthfulness.”

"I don't have an opinion," Kaelin said. "I'm just going to stick to the facts."

One of the day's longest testimony was that of Brenna Theuer. 

The state, through multiple questions, had Theuer recount the events of the night that she last saw Melson alive. 

Theuer made it clear to the jurors that she was not happy that Mobley was at her residence so late at night arguing with a woman that Theuer barely knew. 

"I told him that we didn't need any trouble because I was on probation," Theuer said. "I told him to take his business elsewhere, that it was really inappropriate for him to be dealing with his personal business here."

According to Theuer, she expressed her concern to Henderson. 

"I was told that this was the way things were, that I could kick rocks," Theuer said. "I should stop before I got hurt."

Henderson later tried to "make-up" with Theuer by trying to have sexual relations with her. Theuer stated that she turned Henderson away, but she added he forced her to have sex with him. 

Mobley eventually called Henderson back out of the bedroom. Theuer followed a few minutes later and recounted seeing Mobley beating Melson with the nunchuck. 

Henderson had been outside of the laundry room, but, according to Theuer, Melson started crawling away from Mobley, towards another door. Theuer said that Henderson went around to the other side of that door, went through it, and held Melson's shoulders. 

"Mobley kept beating her," Theuer said. "It couldn't have been long. You can see when someone stops breathing, and she did. I ran to the back room and freaked out."

After a few minutes, Theuer returned to her bedroom and heard rustling noises coming from the laundry room. 

"I heard what sounded like James having sex with Vanessa," Theuer said. "I went and sat on the bed and cried."

Later Wednesday, Kaspar explained Theuer’s allegation that Henderson had sexual intercourse with Melson was the reason why he was charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The defense cross-examined Theuer, following the lunch break. 

Defense attorney Stanley Sokolowski questioned Theuer in close detail on the lay out of the Henderson residence and where each person was standing at particular moments. Theuer appeared frustrated with the questions, but her answers remained consistent with previous testimony. 

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