Joseph Randolph Henry, a 30-year-old Irmo man, has been sentenced to forty (40) years in prison following his conviction in Lexington County for Murder and Possession of a Weapon during the commission of a Violent Crime. Judge Frank R. Addy, Jr. imposed a sentence of 35 years on the Murder charge and 5 years on the weapon charge, to be served consecutively. Henry is not eligible for parole under South Carolina law.
This case marks the first jury trial in Lexington County since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Lexington County Clerk of Court Lisa M. Comer utilized multiple measures to ensure the safety of potential jurors and participants during the trial, including the use of partitions and face masks. Jury selection began on September 28th and the jury returned its guilty verdict on both charges on Monday, October 5th.
Henry murdered Alexis Azarigian, age 25, on the morning of February 21, 2019, while traveling in a vehicle near Fellowship Baptist Church at 4238 Augusta Road in Lexington County. The victim was seated in the front passenger seat and Henry was in the backseat of the vehicle. At trial, the driver of the vehicle and a female passenger testified that Henry became angry with Alexis and a verbal argument followed. While the victim was facing forward in her seat, testimony described that Henry pulled a firearm from his brown leather bag and fired a shot directly to her head.
The driver of the vehicle stopped at the church to seek assistance in calling 911. Witnesses testified that Henry stated, “You know who I am; you know what I do; and I do what I say,” after shooting Alexis. Henry then left the scene after the vehicle stopped.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) responded within minutes to the church parking lot at approximately 7:46 am. Alexis was transported to a local trauma center and pronounced dead the following day as a result of the gunshot wound to her brain. Alexis was an organ donor and her organs were transplanted to recipients in need.
Witnesses at the scene of the church identified the shooter as “Pluto”, a known alias for Henry, and provided information that he may be driving a small blue Toyota. Law enforcement immediately began a search for the shooter led by the LCSD K9 unit. Within 30 minutes, Henry was apprehended approximately 400 yards away at the intersection of 4302 Augusta Road and Cardinal Drive while driving the blue Toyota.
Once Henry was apprehended, members of the LCSD Crime Scene Investigation unit conducted a search of his blue Toyota and discovered a 9 mm Hi Point firearm inside a brown leather bag underneath the driver’s seat. Ultimately, DNA swabs from the trigger of the firearm were submitted to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for analysis and were consistent with Henry’s DNA. During the trial, both surviving occupants of the vehicle identified Henry as the shooter.
The murder investigation was conducted by Det. Sandy Black and Lt. Marlo McCann of the LCSD Major Crimes Unit. “We appreciate the efforts of Sheriff Jay Koon and the entire Sheriff’s Department in apprehending the suspect quickly. The search for the shooter and the criminal investigation involved multiple units within the department. Each officer worked diligently to carry out their commitment to protect the public and see Alexis’ killer brought to justice,” said Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes.
Family members of Alexis Azarigian spoke at the sentencing hearing and shared memories of Alexis as a loving daughter and sister. Her mother, Vicki Azarigian, addressed the court regarding the lifelong impact of her daughter’s murder:
“It was so easy to fall in love with Alexis. Her smile, her beautiful eyes, her infectious laugh and her very large loving heart. Her life was brutally ripped away from her. Her dreams, her goals, her successes, her path in life destroyed by an act that was so callous, heartless, and full of intention by this person to kill her.”
Alexis attended Chapin High School and was a graduate of Newberry Academy. She had worked as a trainer at Gold’s Gym prior to her death.
Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Senior Assistant Solicitor Angela Garrick Martin prosecuted this case for the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.