NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – A New Hanover County woman charged in a fiery, allegedly impaired driving crash that killed her infant son was arrested Monday for violating her bond conditions.
Melissa Henderson, 29, is charged with felony death by motor vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, felony serious injury by vehicle, speeding, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, and two counts of felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in the April 24, 2016, crash that killed 13-month-old James Andrews III.
Henderson was driving in the 9900 block of River Road at around 9:20 a.m. when she failed to turn left and hit a tree at approximately 80 mph, according to the crash report. Her vehicle caught fire as a result of the collision.
Good Samaritans were able to pull Henderson and her 2-year-old daughter, Jacquelyn Andrews, from the vehicle, but could not get to James, who died at the scene.
According to court documents, multiple prescription and illegal narcotics were found in her system following a urinalysis performed at the hospital. Investigators seized Alprazolam, commonly sold under the trade name Xanax, as well as a melted plastic bottle with a lid, razor blades, and a silver spoon head.
In June 2016, Henderson’s public defender requested her bond be lowered from $500,000 to $250,000 at the objection of the state. The judge agreed, but set several conditions if she were to post bond, including not to leave or reside in another state, random drug screenings, and that she wear a SCRAM bracelet, which detects alcohol, not drugs.
During Monday’s hearing, it was revealed that between Dec. 28, 2016 and Jan. 4 Henderson took an Uber to Raleigh and then traveled to Texas after posting bond in November. According to the district attorney’s office, pretrial release was alerted about Henderson’s travels, but did nothing about it.
In an effort to save resources, pretrial also stopped randomly drug screening Henderson and allowed her to submit DSS screening records, according to the district attorney’s office.
“Pretrial never communicated with DSS about the schedule or frequency of screening, so there was nothing to keep Ms. Henderson from not delivering a positive screen to pretrial,” Samantha Dooies, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, said. “It was discovered that Ms. Henderson was doing just that when she concealed an expanded screen that tested positive for buprenorphine (a medication used to treat opioid addiction) that was not disclosed to pretrial.”
Several witnesses were called during Monday’s lengthy hearing, at which the judge reinstated a $500,000 bond for Henderson.
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