Mistaken identity murder case: Woman sentenced for role in slaying of Norfolk teacher


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The woman who admitted to her role in a Norfolk teacher’s murder will serve more than 6 years behind bars.

On Friday, a Norfolk judge handed 24-year-old Teniqu Cushman the maximum sentence of 10 years for her role in the murder of beloved school teacher, Caroline Hendrix.

Cushman was given an active sentence term of 6 years and 7 months. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in 2018, in a case of mistaken identity.

Cushman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder charges in Hendrix’s death. 

Families and friends of both Cushman and Hendrix filled the courtroom for the hearing. 

Caroline Hendrix’s father, mother and stepfather each read powerful, tearful impact statements.

They all painted a picture of who Caroline was, what she meant to this community and what a loss her death has been. 

On New Years Eve 2017, Edward Shaw shot and killed Caroline Hendrix. But the bullet was meant for Hendrix’s friend, Alex Novak.

Shaw and Novak were both romantically involved with Cushman.

Cushman admitted she told Shaw to kill Novak and provided him with information, such as Novak’s address and car. 

Cushman also took the stand Friday to explain what happened from her point of view. She also took the opportunity to apologize to Caroline Hendrix’s family. 

“We know that without a trial the family didn’t really know her perspective,” Cushman’s lawyer, Kristen Paulding, said. “It was really important for us to give them that today.”

Paulding said they anticipated the maximum sentence.

“We knew that Caroline Hendrix was a wonderful women. When you heard the testimony of her family members, a faithful woman, a teacher, just a servant to the community. This particular loss I think was extremely difficult on her family and for our community and Ms. Cushman knew that.” 

Anticipated or not, Cushman let out a loud wail as she left the hearing.

“She’s fine,” Paulding said. “Just some deep breathing. Obviously you hear that you’re going to prison for almost seven years and I just don’t think she knew how to handle that at that moment. But she stepped back and I got to talk to her and she understands.”

Caroline’s family said they were pleased with Cushman’s sentence. 

Shaw pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in October. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January and could face up to 40 years in prison.

Hendrix was a beloved teacher in Norfolk for more than two decades. Norfolk Public Schools released the following statement after Cushman’s sentencing:

“Ms. Caroline Hendrix served the district and the community for more than two decades. The loss of our beloved prekindergarten teacher and friend has been tremendously difficult, however, her memory lives on through the many lives she touched during her long career. Our thoughts and hearts will forever be with the loved ones of Caroline.”

– Norfolk Public Schools

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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