GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Peter Julius Henderson has been found guilty of first degree murder in the 2016 death of Chandler Pugh, according to District Attorney Joel Smith.
The jury reached the verdict after a two-day trial, prompting the judge's decision to sentence Henderson to life in prison.
Gulfport police arrested Henderson on August 10, 2016 in response to a shooting at the Citgo Gas station on Pass Rd. Officers found the victim, Chandler Pugh in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds, where he was pronounced dead on scene. Henderson and his girlfriend, the female passenger in his vehicle, were still on the scene when police arrived.
Trial testimony revealed the incident stemmed from an argument between the victim and the female passenger, who was also the mother of Pugh's children.
During the woman's testimony, the jury learned that while Pugh was speaking with her, Henderson exited the vehicle armed with a .9mm pistol and followed them around as they spoke. When the conversation was over, Pugh turned to leave and was shot four times.
Surveillance footage from a nearby business was a major factor in the outcome of this case.
"The video clearly showed that Pugh was unarmed, was much smaller physically than the defendant and did not attack him prior to the shooting," said ADA Mitch Owen, who prosecuted the case with Patti Simpson.
Detectives discovered Henderson sent a text message to his girlfriend that he would kill Pugh several days prior to the shooting. Search engine activity on gun laws and "stand your round" laws in Mississippi were also found on Henderson's devices.
After initially claiming self-defense, Henderson alter took the stand and admitted Pugh was unarmed when he fired his gun.
"This was an emotional week for Chandler's family as he leaves behind multiple children and family members who loved him. This defendant took an unarmed man's life who posed no threat to him despite his attempt to persuade the jury otherwise," DA Smith said. "The Gulfport Police Department conducted a thorough investigation that led to justice this week."