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Posted: June 4, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Charges against Henderson not dismissed

The request to dismiss battery charges against District 4 county commissioner J.C. Henderson was denied Wednesday by Newton County Magistrate Court Judge Kim Degonia, sending the case to superior court.

Arresting officer Chip Shirah from the Covington Police Department testified that he was called to the Henderson home on Oct. 10, 2009, at 5:43 p.m. when the Henderson’s son Quin called 911 at his mother’s request about a family fight.

He said that when he arrived, he saw Sandy Henderson sitting on the front porch and later noticed that her lip appeared swollen and had a bit of blood on it and that she was rubbing her hand. Shirah said that he asked her what was going on and what was wrong several times, but that she continued to say nothing was wrong. At one point, however, he did say she started to tear up a bit.

According to Shirah, at one point Sandy was asked what happened to her, and she replied, "I don’t know but he [J.C. Henderson] didn’t hit me."

He also testified that the only statement J.C. made to him was to say, "I don’t know, ask her," when questioned as to what was going on. He also said that Sandy eventually told him that her lip was injured when she ran into a door.

Henderson’s attorney John Strauss asked Shirah about Quinn’s 911 call, in which he says that his mother told him to call because she believed J.C. was going to put his hands on her, saying that statement indicated that J.C. had not harmed Sandy when the call was made.

Strauss also asked Shirah if he had threatened to take Sandy to jail if she did not submit to a photograph of her lip, and Shirah replied, "Never." Shirah also admitted that nothing about the injury to Sandy’s lip showed definite proof that it was not made by a door, but that the other evidence suggested she had been struck by a fist and not a door.

Special prosecutor Marcia Cole, an assistant district attorney with the Piedmont Circuit who has been assigned to the case because of a conflict locally, played the 911 tape made by Quinn.

In the tape, Quinn says "…my parents are arguing and my mom wants me to call the police… I guess my dad’s trying to fight her… I don’t think they are trying to fight or nothing… she just said call the police so I’m calling the police."

Sandy Henderson testified the two had an argument that evening because she had been to a barbecue in the neighborhood and had been drinking. When she told J.C. that she was going to return, he told her she should not and she said she became angry. She said that she had been doing the majority of the yelling and that her husband had been sitting on the couch watching television. She also said that she had a beer in her hand and that she told J.C. that she was leaving even though he didn’t want her to go.

"When I drink, I get real loud," she said. "…I was fixin’ to go back down the street and drink me some more beer."

When asked why she had her son call 911, she said that she wanted them to come so that they would tell J.C. that she could leave. As for the injury to her lip, Sandy said it happened when she was walking out the door. She said she turned around to tell him she was leaving no matter what he said, and when she turned back around, she smacked her mouth with the door.

"J.C. Henderson has never put his hands on me," she said. "Not in the 14 years we’ve been married. He has never hit me, and in the family I was raised in, if he hit me I would hit him back."

Quinn testified, saying that he called 911 because his parents were arguing so loud, he didn’t want it to turn into a fight. He also said that he believed his mother was scared but could not say what she was scared of. He also said that he called 911 because his mother told him to and that he never saw J.C. touch her.

Although Strauss argued that the case was based purely on speculation, the judge seemed to disagree.

"The only thing that makes any sense is that a battery occurred," said Degonia.

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