COVINGTON -- A misdemeanor charge of battery under the Family Violence Act has been dropped against Commissioner J.C. Henderson.
Marsha Cole, senior assistant district attorney for the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, said in a court filing that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Henderson struck his wife, Sandy.
"The victim in this case, Sandy Henderson, has repeatedly stated that she does not wish to pursue this case," Cole said.
Sandy Henderson maintained the day of the incident in October 2009 that Henderson did not hit her, and swore to that under oath during a preliminary hearing on June 2, 2010. She claimed she received a busted lip after running into a door while attempting to run away from her husband during a heated argument.
"The state is not convinced that the injury to Mrs. Henderson was merely an accident and is not convinced J.C. Henderson had no part in striking his wife or otherwise directly causing injury to her mouth," Cole said. But, she noted, "In a case such as this, the cooperation of the victim is essential."
Cole requested the warrant be dismissed without prejudice and said that if additional evidence is obtained, a warrant may be reinstated for prosecution any time during the statute of limitations. The request for dismissal was approved by Magistrate Judge John Degonia on Sept. 23.
The Newton County District Attorney's Office requested that a special prosecutor be appointed to the case by the Georgia Attorney General's Office, citing concerns about a conflict of interest since the Board of Commissioners approves the District Attorney's Office budget.
Covington Police Department officers went to Henderson's home at 7134 Puckett St. following a 911 call from Henderson's stepson on Oct. 10, 2009. The stepson told officers "his mother came running out of the house and told him to call 911 because she thinks he (J.C. Henderson) was going to put his hands on her," according to the police report.
When officers arrived, they found Mrs. Henderson on the front porch and noticed she was rubbing her left hand and that she had a busted lip.
"I asked (Mrs.) Henderson what happened. Henderson began crying and stated nothing was wrong and nothing happened," the police report stated. "I was standing on the front porch of the residence at the open door. J.C. Henderson was just inside the residence so I asked him what happened. J.C. Henderson only would state, 'Ask her,' referring to his wife Sandy."
"I asked her how her lip became injured. She stated several times she didn't know but that J.C. didn't hit her," the report stated. "Henderson then stated she was running away from J.C. to get away from him and she hit her mouth on the front door."
CPD spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff said at the time of the incident that because of the Family Violence Act, his officers were mandated to make an arrest.
"All evidence we have points to J.C. Henderson causing harm and injuring his wife. We have to protect the victim. That's why the law was made. We're not judges," Wagstaff said. "We'll put it before the court and let the court decide. Our officers are confident and they documented everything pretty good."
Henderson was represented by Covington attorney John L. Strauss.
"I know you will find out this was a misunderstanding. I love my wife and would never do anything to harm her or anyone else," Henderson stated at the time of the incident. He could not be reached for comment for this story.
News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this story.