Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson, David Hawkins Charged in Service Station Robberies

At about 12:30 a.m., William Edwards was employed at the Parks Service Station in Long Beach. A brown Chevrolet station wagon pulled into the station. Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins were the three occupants of the vehicle. Leon Henderson, the driver, got out and asked William Edwards for a fuse for the car. William Edwards went to the office to get it. Both Leon Henderson and Billy Henderson followed him inside. David Hawkins remained standing next to the open door of the car. When William Edwards reached for the box of fuses he was grabbed from behind and hit on the head. As he was falling he looked up and saw that Billy Henderson had a revolver in his hand. They took his keys, a few dollars from his pockets and then hit him over the head again, this time knocking him unconscious. When he came to he telephoned the police. The cash box containing about $65 or $70 was missing.

About 1:30 a.m. Burr Thomas was working the “graveyard shift” at the Poer Richfield Service Station on Vermont and Redondo Beach. Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins drove into the station in a late model General Motors station wagon. Burr Thomas had been given the license number of this vehicle by Granville Card, who worked at the station on an earlier shift. Granville Card had talked with Burr Thomas about an incident earlier the same evening (at about 10:30 or 11 p.m.). Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins had driven up to the station and Leon Henderson had asked Granville Card to check his fuses. Granville Card told him the lights of his car were burning and he did not need any fuses. Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins had driven off after Granville Card waited on another customer. Granville Card had not waited on Henderson because he remembered Henderson had robbed him on a previous occasion. (However, Burr Thomas did not recall whether Granville Card had told him this.)

As he had done with Granville Card, Leon Henderson, who was driving the station wagon, told Burr Thomas he needed a fuse. Burr Thomas said he did not know what fuse they were talking about and walked back into the office. David Hawkins followed him inside and said, “You are going to get this fuse.” Burr Thomas asked him what size fuse, and David Hawkins replied “Are you going to get this fuse?” He referred to a number 15 fuse. When Burr Thomas turned to reach for the fuse, David Hawkins hit him on the side of the head with a pistol he pulled out. Burr Thomas was struck two more times after he fell to the floor, causing his head to bleed. He saw that Leon Henderson and Billy Henderson had entered the office. Billy Henderson also had a gun in his hand. He got up and managed to fight them off. During the scuffle David Hawkins fired his gun. As they left the office he threw something at Leon Henderson who had slipped on some grease. They drove away in the station wagon.

Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins were arrested by the police shortly before 3 a.m. the same morning. They were driving a 1966 Chevrolet station wagon. Two guns were found under a floor mat of the vehicle.

Back on November 20, Granville Card was working the graveyard shift at the service station when, at about 3 a.m., Leon Henderson drove up in a car and parked near the station. He approached Granville Card and asked him for change for a quarter. Granville Card went to the cash box to get the change. At this point, Henderson stuck his hand inside his pocket and ordered Granville Card to give him all the money in the box. Granville Card complied and Henderson then left.

Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins were jointly charged, in a three count information, with the robbery of William Edwards (count one) and Granville Card (count three) and with the attempted robbery of Burr Thomas (count two).

Alibi witnesses, testifying for Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins, stated that all three were at a birthday party from about 10:30 p.m. until about 2 a.m., on the evening of March 7-8. On the night of November 19-20, Leon Henderson was also at a party. This one lasted from 11 p.m. until 4:15 a.m. the next morning. Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins each testified, denying any involvement in the crimes; they knew nothing about the guns found in their car; they were at a party when the crimes were committed.

In rebuttal, the prosecution introduced evidence that Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins had made statements to the police after their arrests and after being advised of their constitutional rights. In the statements Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins indicated that they were at various locations on the night of March 7 and 8; they did not, however, state that they were at a party.

A jury found Leon Henderson guilty as charged. Billy Henderson and David Hawkins were found guilty of counts one and two; count three was subsequently dismissed. As to counts one and two, Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins were found to be armed, and the degree was fixed as the first degree. With respect to count three of which Leon Henderson alone was convicted, the degree was reduced by the court to the second degree. Motions for new trial and for probation were denied and all three received prison sentences, the counts being ordered to run concurrently. Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins appeal from the judgments entered.

The California Court of Appeals concluded that the above evidence overwhelmingly established guilt of the charges they were convicted of committing: Without foundation is the argument that David Hawkins was not shown to have taken any part in the crime alleged in count one. He stood by the car, presumably as a lookout, while the Hendersons entered the service station office and robbed the attendant. While he was not shown to have directly participated in the acts constituting the crime, clearly the evidence supports the conclusion that he aided and abetted in its commission and was thus guilty as a principal. Nor do we find any merit in the argument, directed toward the count two charge of attempted robbery, that no showing is made Billy Henderson, Leon Henderson and David Hawkins intended to rob the victim. The unmistakable conclusion drawn from the evidence is that robbery was their objective, and that such objective was frustrated only by the defense put up by their intended victim.

The judgments were affirmed by the California Court of Appeals.

The facts summarized above are excerpted from what was written by the California Court of Appeals. More information is available from the source documents: The People v. Billy Henderson et al., California Court of Appeals, Oct. 30, 1967, opinion of Jefferson with Files and Kingsley concurring.