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Posted: January 24, 2010 12:01 a.m.

DA’s office recuses itself from Henderson case

Stepson’s charges reduced to criminal trespassing

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Read the affidavit from Sandy Henderson

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson adamantly denies the charge of battery that resulted in his arrest on Oct. 10, but a preliminary hearing to discuss the case has been delayed.

Henderson’s attorney John L. Strauss requested a preliminary hearing for the battery charge, but District Attorney Ken Wynne recused his office from the case because the Board of Commissioners pays the salary of the district attorneys.

Wynne said he has asked the Attorney General to assign the case to another county’s district attorney office. He said there was no timetable for this assignment to be completed.

Originally, Henderson applied and qualified for a public defender and was represented by Chief Public Defender Anthony Carter. Henderson has since hired the private legal counsel of Strauss.

Strauss also provided two signed affidavits, one from Henderson’s wife, Sandy, and one from his mother-in-law, Louise Flournoy.

In her affidavit, signed on Jan. 14, Sandy said that she and Henderson had gotten into a verbal argument, but Henderson never put his hands on her. She said she had been drinking at a cookout down the street before coming home. When she wanted to leave again, Henderson argued against her leaving because she had been drinking.

Because the argument went on for some time, Sandy said in her affidavit that her son called 911.

"I was in a hurry to leave even though J.C. did not want me to. I ran toward the front door to go out, and in the process of doing so, I ran into the front door, hurting my mouth.," Sandy said in her affidavit.

Sandy then said that the police showed up and questioned her, Henderson and their son.

"The police pulled my son around to the back of the house and tried to get him to say that J.C. and I had been fighting. However, my son insisted that his parents were only arguing, which is what he told the 911 operator," she said in the affidavit.

"Later, the police threw me up against the car and said that they were going to lock me up too if I did not let them take pictures of my mouth. I tried to tell the officers that my mouth was hurt when I ran into the door, but they would not believe me. The officers kept insisting that my teeth were damaged because of a fight with J.C., but my teeth have always been damaged, which is what my mother also told the police when arrived. "

Covington Police Department Chief Stacey Cotton said Saturday he had not seen nor was he familiar with any affidavits regarding the Henderson case.

"I have no knowledge of any complaint about the case. As far as I know my officers acted appropriately," Cotton said.

Strauss said as far as he know, neither J.C. nor Sandy Henderson intend to pursue any claims against the city.

"Rather, they simply want these false charges to be dismissed," he said in an email.

Following Henderson’s October arrest, CPD Lt. Wendell Wagstaff said the three officers who responded saw enough evidence to arrest J.C. for domestic violence.

"We’re mandated by law, when we find a victim that has been injured and it’s a husband or wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, we’re mandated by law to make an arrest based on the information and evidence gathered. And based on the evidence they found they arrested him," Wagstaff said. "We hate to do it, but we have to do our job."

The Family Violence Act was passed because in many cases wives or girlfriends would not want to accuse their husbands or boyfriends of wrongdoing for fear of the repercussions.

As of last October, there had been 113 calls made to the CPD from or in reference to the Henderson’s address on Puckett Street from 1997 to 2009, including nine about family fights, 10 for arguments and 10 for 911 hang-ups. Others included several noise complaints, juvenile problems missing person and animal problem calls, but there was also one call each about a suicide attempt, the discharge of a gun and assault. Detailed narrative reports were only written for a handful of the total calls.

In related news, Strauss also provided an update on the case of Henderson’s son-in-law, Quinn.

I represent Mr. Quinn Henderson in connection with his recent arrest, about which you recently wrote an article.

"Although Mr. Henderson was initially arrested for the offense of aggravated stalking (a very serious offense), after the district attorney's office had an opportunity to review the issues involved, the charges were reduced to misdemeanor criminal trespass," Strauss said in an email. "Accordingly, Mr. Henderson was able to post a reasonable bond."

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