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Suspect in Sioux City hotel room murder withdraws request to plead guilty

Suspect in Sioux City hotel room murder withdraws request to plead guilty


SIOUX CITY -- A month ago, Jordan Henry notified a judge he wanted to plead guilty to killing Elizabeth Bockholt in a Sioux City hotel room.

On Friday, Henry's attorney told District Judge Steven Andreasen that he'd changed his mind.

"The defendant has withdrawn his letter and wants to let his case proceed as previously set," public defender Billy Oyadare said during a status hearing.

Henry remains scheduled to stand trial July 9 in Woodbury County District Court for first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Henry had written a letter to Andreasen on March 13, telling the judge he wanted to plead guilty and accept a lifetime prison sentence, saying he wanted to speed up the case and avoid further publicity.

After Oyadare told Andreasen during Friday's five-minute hearing that there would be no plea, Andreasen informed Henry that any letters he sends to the court are shared with the prosecution. Anything said in those letters can be used against him in the case.

"Do you understand?" Andreasen asked Henry.

"Yes, sir," Henry answered.

First Assistant Woodbury County Attorney Mark Campbell had no objections to Henry withdrawing his request to plead guilty.

Henry, 29, of Sioux City, is accused of strangling Bockholt in a Sioux City hotel room on Jan. 24 and then setting fire to the room.

Firefighters and police found Bockholt's body after responding to the fire at the Wingate by Wyndham, 4716 Southern Hills Drive. According to court documents, Bockholt, 40, of Hinton, Iowa, and Henry had a romantic relationship prior to Henry being sentenced to prison in 2017, and she voluntarily met him at the hotel the night she died. Henry was identified on surveillance video and by witnesses who saw him leaving the scene just after the fire.

Henry had been sentenced to five years in prison after violating the terms of his probation from a 2016 theft conviction. After serving nearly 20 months of the sentence, he was released on parole on Jan. 16, eight days before Bockholt's death.

If Henry is ultimately found guilty of first-degree murder, he would receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. First-degree arson carries a 25-year prison sentence.

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