Merced man who murdered his family in 1998 now up for parole

At the age of 16, Daniel Henson was sentenced to 176 years to life in prison for four murders over a decade ago.

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Friday, July 15, 2022
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Daniel Henson was just 16 when he killed his father, brother, sister, and stepmom. Now two family members say they're having to relive the trauma.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A teenager sentenced to life in prison is scheduled for parole next week.

Chad Villanueva and his cousin Katie Jarvise Bellin are reminiscing about those special moments with their grandmother - Constance Henson, or Grandma Connie.

"She was amazing. She was loving. She was kind and she did not deserve to go the way that she was. Killed," says Villanueva.

She was one of four family members killed in a Merced home back in 1998.

Bellin was 14 years old and Villanueva was 12 - they remember the tragedy all too well.

Bellin says it tore everyone's life apart.

"We've spent decades just trying to bury this and all the trauma that it caused," she says.

Daniel Henson is the convicted murderer.

When he was just 16, he killed his own father, brother, sister, and stepmom - Villanueva and Bellin's grandmother.

He was sentenced to 176 years to life in prison.

Henson has served 24 of those years in Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.

But due to a 2017 California law, he's now eligible for parole.

Five years ago, California passed a statute that retroactively eliminates life-without-parole sentences for children.

If convicted as a juvenile, the young criminal could be eligible for parole after serving 24 years.

Villaneuva says this adds insult to injury.

"It's like reliving it all over again. It's like going back to day one and experiencing that hurt that he created that he did that no one else did."

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says this law does not guarantee parole.

There are many factors the parole board will need to assess.

"With a crime that's as draconian as this one, I cannot imagine he'll be given parole," says Capozzi.

In 2016, Action News went inside the prison to interview Henson.

"There's nothing I can say, I am guilty of a horrible, terrible thing," he told us.

He was a part of 52-week restorative program built to break the cycle of violence and understand the pain it's caused.

Then, Henson said these memorable words -

"Nothing else matters in my life except to show my repentance, to show my remorse," he said.

Despite those words, Villanueva and Bellin say they will never be ready for him to be out of jail.

"Remorse is fine. I'm glad he has remorse. But... he needs to pay for what he did. And he needs to spend the rest of his life behind bars," Villanueva says.

Henson is slated to have a virtual parole hearing next Wednesday on July 20th.

Both Villanueva and Bellin say they will be giving impact statements to Henson and the parole board.

They say they hope parole is denied, taking it as far as requesting Henson not be allowed another parole hearing for 15 years.