Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
Ad hoc Criminal District Judge Dennis Waldron on Friday (April 24) set bail a second time for a man convicted of one of the most gruesome double murders in recent New Orleans history.
Waldron set bond in the amount of $400,000 for Darrill Henry, over the objection of state prosecutors and the surviving family of victims Durelli Watts and Ina Gex, who were slain at Watts’ 7th Ward home on June 15, 2004. Waldron, however, did agree to stay his bail order until May 7 to allow the state time to seek appellate review.
Watts, 89, was stabbed 14 times and set on fire while still alive in her house. Her daughter Gex, 67, was fatally shot in the head after arriving on the scene and attempting to aid her mother. An Orleans Parish jury deliberated 6 1/2 hours before unanimously finding Henry guilty on two counts of first-degree murder on Sept. 1, 2011.
But Waldron, on March 12, 2020, overturned Henry’s conviction, based on a claim of new DNA evidence. Defense attorneys from Innocence Project New York have asserted that since Henry’s DNA was not found under Watts’ fingernails, their client could not have been her killer.
The jury reached its verdict after hearing from three eyewitnesses who testified they saw Henry flee the fiery murder scene in the 1900 block of Duels Street. But despite that, and being presented with no evidence proving the frail, 89-year-old Watts even had a chance to struggle with the person who fatally stabbed her, Waldron six weeks ago granted Henry’s post-conviction relief motion for a new trial.
Waldron set bond for Henry in the amount of $400,000 on March 31, but that decision was stayed by the Louisiana Supreme Court and remanded back to Waldron’s court for the bond hearing conducted Friday.
Waldron again expressed his belief that he was required to set a bond, a position with which the state strongly disagrees and will seek a supervisory writ to overturn.
“The court seems to be somewhat confused on the law as to whether it has the discretion to deny bail while we seek appellate review,” Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said. “We do not believe this defendant should be granted a new trial, nor be entitled to a release on bond while that decision is being challenged in higher courts.”
Dr. Gregory Gex, the grandson and son of the victims, issued a statement Friday from his home in Las Vegas:
“Our family is devastated. A month-long trial, with a jury of people from all walks of life, unanimously found him guilty of double murder. The judge, who presided over that trial, has ignored the trial, the witnesses and rendered our mother’s and grandmother’s death insignificant. A mockery of justice.”
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