Nine men have been cleared of murder in the brutal slaying of Bakari Henderson in July of 2017. Henderson was an American who was on a working vacation in Greece, according to CBS News. A Greek court handed down sentencing today to nine men convicted of assault in the Henderson case. Sentencing ranged from five to 15 years in prison.
Henderson, 22, of Austin, Texas, was in Greece working on a photo shoot for a clothing line he was launching. The attack took place outside of a bar in Lagana. Investigators stated that a Serbian woman claimed a fight began when she asked the Americans to take a selfie with her. Allegedly, another man asked her why she would take a picture with a black man when there were so many Serbs in the bar.
Security video from the bar showed the same man hit Henderson in the face. Henderson hit the man back. Witnesses reported that Henderson was verbally attacking the men. A fight broke out. The fight spilled out onto the street, where security footage showed Henderson running from a mob. The mob caught up with Henderson and the video recorded the brutal beating that led to his death in a matter of minutes.
Prosecutors believed that they had a strong case because of the surveillance video which showed the beating. But defendants claimed that they never intended on killing him. Three friends of Henderson witnessed the attack, but only two of the men testified. The Henderson family was hoping for life sentences for each of the suspects.
Jill Henderson, Bakari’s mother, told CBS News they were “just hopeful that justice will be served, and that all defendants will get life sentences.” The family was shocked and dismayed at what they considered to be light sentencing.
Phil Henderson, Bakari’s father, expressed anger after sentencing. He told CBS News he “can’t understand, a man’s life here in Greece doesn’t mean anything.”
“You should not be able to chase a man down and beat him to death, and not go to jail,” said Jill.
Of the nine defendants, three were exonerated. The harshest sentence went to the British national, who received up to 15 years in prison for grievous bodily harm. Three of the Serbians received seven years in prison, while the other two got five years and ten years, respectively. All five of the remaining Serbians had lesser assault charges.
Despite the family’s surprise at the outcome, Jill told CBS News, “I just want to keep his memory alive. I don’t want to introduce any negativity into my spirit. And I really do want to remember him as a go-lucky, energetic, fun-loving, happy Bakari.”