Driver gets five years in two deaths in Snohomish County

EVERETT — As Jesse Jay Henderson quickly walked away from the two mangled and steaming cars that night just over a year ago, Brian Christianson tried to talk to him.

Christianson recalled asking Henderson about the car accident, which had happened moments earlier, only feet from where they stood. Henderson casually replied, "What accident?" and walked away.

Inside one car, Christianson found a young woman with blood on her cheek; her neck appeared to be broken. It was too dark to make out much else.

It wasn't until an hour later that he learned the woman was his 20-year-old daughter, Alina. Her best friend, 19-year-old Jason Carney, also died in the crash.

"I want her back," Christianson sobbed in Snohomish County Superior Court yesterday as he recounted what happened the night of March 3, 2002, when his daughter was killed.

Moments later, Henderson, 19, was sentenced to five years behind bars for two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of hit-and-run driving. He will spend four years in prison for vehicular homicide — the high end of the sentencing range — and then one year in jail for the hit-and-run-driving count. The Bothell man pleaded guilty to the charges March 28.

Christianson, his daughter Kari, 18, and Carney's parents yesterday lashed out at Henderson for not showing any remorse until his sentencing.

His voice shaky and his eyes welling with tears, Christianson asked Deputy Prosecutor Joan Cavagnaro to finish reading the letter he had prepared for yesterday's sentencing before Superior Court Judge Richard Thorpe.

"He left me alone with the death and destruction," Cavagnaro read from the letter. "I don't know if I can ever totally forgive him for this disregard for their lives."

Henderson, a graduate of Family Academy in Monroe who before the crash planned to attend the University of Arizona, cried when Christianson discussed the wreckage.

"If I could give my life to get those two back, I would any day of the week," Henderson said. "But I can't, and I'm truly, truly sorry."

Brian and Marie Christianson already had lost a child in a car accident when their 15-year-old son was killed in 1991. As a result, they were nervous about Alina and Kari riding in cars.

On the night of the accident, Brian Christianson was driving to Carney's house to pick up Alina.

As he was driving, his car was narrowly missed by a speeding car. He then heard a crash. Looking in his rear-view mirror he saw that the car that missed him had hit another car.

He checked inside the damaged cars then went to a nearby house and asked the occupants to call 911. He continued to Carney's house in Snohomish and found that his daughter and Carney weren't there. When Christianson returned to his Bothell home he found they weren't there either. Police notified him later that night that his daughter had been involved in the crash.

"Jesse Henderson should and will be held accountable for their lives," Carney's father, Joe, said in court. "Jason and Alina's lives represent more than a court sentence. ... What real consolation is that?"

Thorpe, who was sent more than 40 letters from friends and family of Jason Carney, Alina Christianson and Henderson, said after reading the letters and watching the action inside the packed courtroom he felt the need to explain that "a judge does not put on a black robe to do good as he sees it."

"Many think the standard sentencing range for vehicular homicide is woefully inadequate. ... I agree," Thorpe said. "But that is something you will have to take up with your Legislature."

Jennifer Sullivan: 425-783-0604.