by Neal Putnam
The killer of a Hillcrest man who was targeted because he sought a date on a gay dating website was sentenced March 28 to 76 years to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
Steven Tucker, 60, was stabbed 13 times and killed in his own home on Eighth Avenue on Oct. 26, 2021, by Randolph Winston Henderson, 52, who targeted him out of his belief that gay men were sex offenders, according to District Attorney records released April 4.
Henderson was arrested three days later near Montague, Texas, on a fraud warrant from Colorado, after his van was stopped. Inside was a knife with dried blood, and other weapons, according to his probation report that was released April 4.
Henderson told police he was on his way to Florida to murder a physician whom he believed had performed abortions. He confessed to detectives that he killed Tucker, but had never met him before until he met him through the gay dating website.
Henderson has congestive heart failure and was recorded telling his ex-wife on a collect phone call from jail that he planned to ask for an early release from prison due to his medical condition, according to DA records. Henderson was quoted as saying he thought he would probably only serve a few years in prison before going to a medical facility and then be released after forming a prison ministry.
Deputy DA Kristie Nikoletich wrote that Henderson “should never be paroled back into society…or granted compassionate release,” adding that “defendant’s own words and actions have demonstrated what a true danger he is to society, despite his ongoing medical issues.” Henderson will have to serve 2/3rds of the 76-year sentence before he can be released.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Groch imposed 25 years to life for the murder conviction and tripled the sentence to 75 years because Henderson is a 3rd strike defendant, having been convicted of four counts of bank robbery. He added one year for the use of a knife.
Groch gave him credit for serving 147 days in jail since his arrest and fined him $1,070. His attorney, Joscelyn B. Campbell II, opposed Henderson pleading guilty, but told the judge that he “hasn’t made any excuses or minimized what he has done.”
In letters read aloud by the prosecutor, Tucker’s adult children said their focus was on their father’s life and not on how he died. “I will look for my dad in everything beautiful…and I will find him,” wrote Laura Tucker. “He had such a beautiful world view.”
— Neal Putnam is a local court reporter.