BROOKSVILLE — Mark Anthony Henry was ready to sign a plea agreement that would have sent him to prison for 20 years.
But Henry, a 46-year-old Zephyrhills resident accused of sexually battering a young girl, didn't show up for his court date in Brooksville Thursday morning. Pasco County sheriff's deputies found him hanging from a tree along Lumberton Road in Zephyrhills.
A Pasco sheriff's spokesman said Friday the death was still under investigation, pending a report from the medical examiner.
Henry acknowledged battering an 8-year-old girl on several occasions in December 2011 at Brook Haven Apartments in Brooksville, police said. He was a counselor for the Eckerd Youth Challenge Program in Hernando County at the time of his arrest, but the girl did not have any connection to his job, authorities said.
Assistant State Attorney Erin Daly said Henry had agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of attempted lewd and lascivious molestation of a child. The deal, which would have spared the girl from testifying at trial, called for a 20-year prison sentence followed by 10 years of probation and lifetime designation as a sexual predator.
If convicted as charged, Henry faced between 25 years and life in prison.
Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.