JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who raped a mother last year in broad daylight in Bartram Park while threatening to harm her 7-month-old son was sentenced Friday to more than two life terms in prison.
Sion Khadeem Henry, 26, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of sexual battery and one count of armed robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison on each sexual battery count, plus 15 years on the armed robbery conviction.
Prosecutors said Henry was tied to the February 2016 crime with DNA evidence collected from the victim through a rape kit.
Police said Henry was trying to get the victim's attention and was making cat calls when he followed her on Feb. 19, 2016, as she left the grocery store at the Shoppes at Bartram Park on Old St. Augustine Road to walk home. He grabbed her stroller with her baby son inside, and threatened to push it into a retention pond, then dragged her onto a mattress and sexually assaulted her while continuing to make threats against her baby.
The woman, whom News4Jax is not naming because she is a rape victim, offered emotional testimony Friday during Henry's sentencing hearing as she and her family requested the maximum penalty.
"This assault has taken so much from me,” she said. "My life has changed. I cannot begin to illustrate the pain and hurt I feel after being taken advantage of."
She said the attack haunts her and she was forced to move away from the area.
She said she knew during the attack that she had to fight for her life and her son's.
The woman told officers she scratched Henry in the face, and he left after the attack, taking her cellphone and an undisclosed amount of cash with him. She was treated for her injuries. Her baby was not hurt.
The woman's mother said in court Friday that her daughter has nightmares and flashbacks from the attack as she recalls gasping for air while being choked and crawling through the woods trying to get to her son. She said her daughter is a survivor.
Henry apologized to the victim's family in court Friday and said he had grown during his time in jail, but prosecutors asked Judge Linda McCallum to consider the heinous nature of the crime.
"He preyed upon a mother's worst fears. That takes a special person to rape a mother in front of her screaming, crying infant,” the prosecutor said. "Henry's true colors were shown with this brutal attack. For certain predators, rehab is not warranted. What is warranted is punishment."
The victim's family appeared relieved when McCallum announced the double life sentence.
Henry has 30 days to appeal the sentence.
If you have been raped or know someone who needs help, the Women's Center of Jacksonville has a Rape Crises Hotline available 24/7 at 904-721-7273.