At 2:35 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2017, a Wednesday, Judy Henderson was released from the Chillicothe Correctional Center in northwest Missouri after 35 years behind bars.
Before she left she met briefly with the man who set her free.
Then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens went to Chillicothe, Missourinet reported at the time, to sign the papers commuting the Springfield, Missouri native’s life sentence for her role in the July 1981 robbery-turned-murder of jeweler Harry Klein.
Henderson could have been out of prison decades ago, the governor’s office said.
Henderson, 68, who now lives in Grain Valley, Missouri according to reports, has spoken to Springfield media since she got out but has not revealed details about the case.
On Monday, she gives her version of what happened on the true-crime cable series, “The Real Story with María Elena Salinas.”
The show’s producers say Henderson will talk about the night of the murder, her subsequent high-profile trial, the governor’s pardon and the guilt she now lives with.
“I’ve not really talked about it. This is the first time I’ve talked to anyone in this capacity about what happened. And I just feel so stupid,” a tearful Henderson says in a preview of the show.
“Yet you were there,” Salinas says.
“Yes,” says Henderson.
The governor’s office ultimately decided Henderson’s role in the robbery and murder was minor.
Authorities believe her boyfriend, Greg Cruzen, shot Klein and paid four witnesses to lie about Henderson’s role, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
In June, when Greitens pardoned Henderson, he said in a statement that the boyfriend killed Klein and that “she could have been out of prison decades ago if her lawyers had not lied to her about the offer of a plea deal,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“We’re grateful for the mercy the governor showed.,” John Ammann, a St. Louis University law professor who helped to get Henderson out of prison, told the Post-Dispatch.
At trial, Henderson and Cruzen were represented by the same defense attorney.
“I remember JImmy McMullin, the attorney, telling us to not say a word, not to talk to anyone about anything. I was so confused, I felt like we were both going to be O.K. That’s what Greg kept telling me,” she tells Salinas in the TV interview.
Henderson claims she wanted to take the stand to defend herself, “but Jimmy McMullin said I cannot, and I did not know what my defense was until every witness walked in the courtroom and I would tell Jimmy when they would come in, I said, ‘Who are they and why are they here?’”
She was found guilty. Cruzen was acquitted.
Henderson never did take the stand and afterward McMullin told reporters he “would do it exactly the same way.”
In early June, Henderson told the Springfield newspaper that in prison she studied, worked out, prayed, trained dogs and worked on securing her freedom.
On the outside, dozens of people worked on her behalf, as well. Greitens’ office said it reviewed thousands of documents related to the case before the governor commuted her sentence in December and subsequently pardoned her.
She told the News-Leader Greitens called her on his last day in office to tell her she was pardoned.
“The loss of a life and the pain that it caused his family is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life,” Henderson told the newspaper last month.
Her interview with Salinas, in a “Real Story” episode titled ‘A Love to Kill For,” airs at 9 p.m Monday on the cable channel Investigation Discovery.