Woman Gets 13 Years for Road Rage Shooting

ByJay Reeves

C O L U M B I A N A, Ala., Dec. 4, 2000 -- A woman was sentenced today to 13 yearsin prison for the “road rage” shooting death of another womanmotorist on an exit ramp of a busy interstate.

Shirley Henson, 41, showed no emotion when she heard thesentence for manslaughter in the killing of Gena Foster, a34-year-old mother of three.

Prosecutors said Henson tailgated Foster for several miles onInterstate 65 as the two women drove from work to their homes insuburbs south of Birmingham on Nov. 8, 1999.

Circuit Judge Al Crowson said he knew his sentence in this casewould be closely watched because all drivers have “a little roadrage” in them. He said neither probation, as requested by thedefense, nor the maximum sentence of 20 years was appropriate.

Parole Possible in 4 1/2 Years

Prosecutors argued against probation but did not request aspecific sentence. They said she would be eligible for parole inabout 4 1/2 years.

Crowson said he has never carried a gun in his car. “I believethat those people that carry pistols in their car need to beresponsible for them,” he said.

The victim’s mother, Patricia Newell of Sun City, Ariz., criedon the witness stand as she testified at today’s sentencinghearing.

“I’m in more pain than I am in anger,” she said. “The loss istoo great.”

Originally charged with murder in Foster’s death, Henson wasconvicted on a reduced charge of manslaughter in October. She hasremained free on the $50,000 bond; she was ordered to report tojail Jan. 2.

Prosecution evidence showed Henson, driving a sport-utilityvehicle, stayed on the bumper of Foster’s Pontiac even as Fostersped up.

Foster got out of her car on an exit ramp and walked back toHenson’s vehicle, which stopped directly behind Foster. Henson shotonce through the unrolled driver’s window, striking Foster in thecheek from close range.

The defense claimed Foster brought the killing on herself bydriving erratically and acting threateningly toward Henson, whotestified that she feared for her life when she killed Foster.

Witnesses testified Foster had a volatile personality, andHenson’s lawyers contended she was addicted to a prescriptionpainkiller that could have worsened her behavior.

Her defense attorney, David Cromwell Johnson, has said he wouldappeal but no papers have been filed.

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