Share This Page

Hawaii man sentenced to life in 1996 killing of Pitt professor

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HONOLULU — A Hawaii man convicted of killing a visiting University of Pittsburgh linguistic professor from Beaver County in 1996 has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins gave Jason Lee McCormick the mandatory sentence on Wednesday.

McCormick, 40, was convicted in June of killing Robert T. Henderson, 51, of Chippewa, who was serving as a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii.

Henderson was strangled, prosecutors say. His nude, decomposed body was found in his Waikiki condo five days after he was last seen leaving campus.

McCormick had a stipulated facts trial, where lawyers on both sides allowed Perkins to make a decision based on police reports, mental health evaluations and McCormick's statements.

The case was unsolved until 2008, when McCormick confessed while being treated at a psychiatric facility. He later went to police and confessed again, his attorney, Michael Green, has said.

“As years went by, he had a problem living with himself,” Green has said.

In closing arguments at trial, Green said McCormick was drunk and went into a rage because he was sexually abused as a child and believed Henderson made sexual advances toward him.

There was a message scrawled on Henderson's body, accusing him of molesting children.

Police said there was no evidence to back up the child molestation claim and Henderson's family has said they believe the message was a smokescreen to cover up a robbery because two watches and a money clip they believe Henderson took to Hawaii disappeared.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.