He was scared for his life when he shot a man to death, he testified. A jury didn’t buy it.

Peter Julius Henderson
Peter Julius Henderson

An Alabama man will serve life in prison for fatally shooting his girlfriend’s unarmed ex-boyfriend at a Gulfport gas station in 2016.

A Harrison County jury convicted Mobile resident Peter Julius Henderson on Wednesday night, finding him guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying of Chandler Pugh on Aug. 10, 2016, District Attorney Joel Smith said.

Circuit Judge Chris Schmidt sentenced Henderson after a Harrison County jury gave its verdict.

Pugh was 26 and Henderson’s girlfriend was the mother of Pugh’s children, Smith said.

Henderson shot Pugh four times — three times in the chest and once in the back, he said.

Henderson, 31, worked as a security guard in Mobile when he opened fire on Pugh at the Citgo gas station on Pass Road at Broadmoor Place, according to a previous Sun Herald report.

Smith said a jury in a two-day trial heard testimony that Henderson had been searching the internet for information on Mississippi’s “stand your ground” law and had sent his girlfriend a text message saying he would kill Pugh.

On the day of the shooting, Henderson and his girlfriend had filed an assault complaint against Pugh with the Gulfport Police Department.

That night, Pugh was driving by the gas station when he saw his ex-girlfriend’s car at a gas pump, prosecutors said. Pugh stopped to speak to her.

Victim ‘did not attack’

Video surveillance from a nearby store showed Pugh was unarmed and “was much smaller than the defendant and did not attack him prior to the shooting,” Assistant District Attorney Mitch Owen said.

Henderson weighed more than 400 pounds and was 5 feet 4inches tall and Pugh was 6 feet 3inches tall and weighed 250 pounds, a detective testified.

While Pugh was talking with the woman, Henderson got out of the woman’s car with a 9 mm handgun and shot Pugh as he was turning to get in his vehicle to leave, prosecutors said.

Police said Henderson and his girlfriend were still at the gas station when officers arrived.

Henderson testified at trial that he feared for his life because of a dispute earlier in the day between Pugh and his girlfriend, Smith said.

Owen said Henderson admitted Pugh was not armed when he shot him during cross-examination at trial.

Prosecutors said Henderson was waiting for a chance to shoot Pugh and make it look like self-defense.

“This was an emotional week for Chandler’s family as he leaves behind multiple children and family members who loved him,” Smith said.

Prosecutors said the jury in the two-day trial deliberated about an hour before returning its verdict.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews