A Lufkin man has accepted a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to killing a woman after learning she had HIV after he had sex with her. Justin Welch, 23, entered the plea in District Judge Bob Inselmann’s courtroom. “Guilty,” Welch said. “Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?” Yes sir,” Welch said.
Welch was arrested in June in San Antonio after the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest for first-degree murder of Elisha Henson, 30. An arrest affidavit states Welch killed her after he learned she had HIV and they had already had sex.
According to another arrest affidavit, Welch’s co-conspirator, Rosalind Smith, told investigators the three of them were getting high on meth when Smith talked to Henson about her having HIV. Welch appeared to have heard the conversation and “appeared astonished to know” Henson had HIV. Smith told investigators that Welch later told her that Henson was dead. Smith is accused of disposing of the body in Rivercrest.
Smith is scheduled for jury selection on Jan. 20.
Welch’s Lawyer Al Charanza said that Welch was remorseful for what he did. But Hensen’s mom, Brenda Carrell, said the damage is done. After Welch pleaded guilty, Hensen’s mother gave her impact statement. “You have no heart.” Carrell said. “You are a killer in my eyes.You must pay for what you did. Elisha was a mother of two amazing boys, who today have a grave to visit.” “I am sorry,” Welch said.