Man guilty of murder in the 2nd degree for killing visiting professor

Published  6:12 PM HST Jun 26, 2013
Jason McCormick and lawyer
HONOLULU -

Nearly two decades after a visiting professor was found murdered in a Waikiki hotel room, the case has ended with a guilty of murder in the second degree verdict.

It has taken detectives, prosecutors, and family members of professor Robert Henderson 17 years to hear the word guilty. In 1996, Henderson was a visiting professor from the University of Pittsburgh as a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii.

When Henderson met Jason McCormick it was an encounter that triggered a bizarre and violent series of events.

"He performed with his martial arts training, a special technique, a 'lion killer' choke hold, which ultimately caused the death of the victim in the case," said Darrell Wong, deputy prosecuting attorney.

Police found Henderson's body in a Waikiki condo, nude and decomposing. His backside was covered in hand-written, derogatory accusations. McCormick's attorney said his client  was enraged after Henderson made sexual advances toward him.

"When you write on the body after the guy's motionless, words that suggest what your intent, 'Good for him, he deserved to die,' it's difficult, there are no winners in this case," said Michael Green, defense attorney.

Prosecutors agree, any victory is hollow for Henderson's family.

"I'm sure they are very happy about it, but I mean it's not going to bring their son back, their brother back," said Wong.

McCormick was in his 20s when he committed the crime, he confessed in 2008.

"He's been trying to basically confess to this crime for years. It's been bothering him for almost half of his life," said Green.

Green said McCormick made a suicide attempt two weeks ago. The judge and Green determined his mind was still clear for the hearing. McCormick's sentencing is set for September.

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