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U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber said Thursday that his office will assess the circumstances leading to the placement of Cory Lee Henderson in a treatment center instead of in jail while he awaited trial on federal drug and gun charges.
Henderson, who walked away from the Fortitude Treatment Center last month, killed Unified Police Department Officer Doug Barney and wounded UPD Officer Jon Richey on Sunday before dying in a shootout with other officers, authorities say.
Federal prosecutors had asked that Henderson a state parolee with a record of federal and state firearms and drug-related charges be held behind bars until the pending criminal case was resolved. However, they did not object when U.S. Magistrate Judge Evelyn Furse decided to let him go to the treatment center instead, Huber noted in a written statement.
"Those of us involved in the criminal justice profession will join others in the coming weeks to review the circumstances surrounding this tragedy," Huber said. "Federal judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys make decisions on detention issues every day. In each of these cases, those involved take their duties seriously and use their best judgment in balancing competing interests."
He added that "there is only one person to blame the fugitive who committed these heinous crimes."
Henderson, 31, was serving time for parole violations Nov. 24, when a grand jury indicted him on the charges.
At a Dec. 4 hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Thorpe requested that Henderson be detained, and the prosecutor detailed Henderson's previous failures to follow the conditions of his supervised release. Defense attorney Alexander Ramos asked for more time to research the Fortitude Treatment Center, a Utah Adult Probation and Parole facility that he thought would benefit his client.
When the hearing continued on Dec. 7, Thorpe asked that federal Probation and Pretrial Services which helps ensure that defendants released before their trials return to court as required assess the proposed placement. But, he added, "otherwise, I'm comfortable with this resolution."
Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office, has said prosecutors requested the assessment because it was clear Furse "was going in a different direction" than their initial request for detention.
However, Furse did not include the requested pretrial services assessment in her order and allowed Henderson to reside at Fortitude.
Henderson absconded from the Salt Lake City center 11 days later. On Sunday, he allegedly ran a red light and crashed a car at 2300 East and 4500 South. He fled on foot before allegedly shooting Barney and Richey in an exchange of gunfire near 2100 E. 4500 South.
In his statement, Huber expressed sorrow over the shootings.
"Our hearts are also full of gratitude for the heroic efforts of those who willingly risk their lives every day to keep our families and communities safe," he said. "We also want the families of our law enforcement officers to know we recognize how much they sacrifice on our behalf."