By Stan Welch
A Hamlin Road resident is currently in custody at the Anderson County Detention Center for her role in the shooting death of Jerry Wayne Sanders, Jr. last Saturday evening.
Debra Lynne Sheridan, 50, may face charges of homicide as a result of her shooting of Sanders. Newly installed Sheriff Chad McBride and Solicitor David Wagner met Tuesday to consider whether Sheridan’s claim of self defense met the legal requirements of South Carolina’s castle doctrine.
Sheridan may face several issues, including reports that Sanders was shot in the back. Sanders, according to the incident report filed by ACSO Deputies A.N. Brown and J.T. Bowers, had been staying at the property and caring for a number of animals at the site at 824 Hamlin Rd. in the Slabtown area. The nature of those animals and their status at the site may be a problem for Sheridan as well. According to sources at the scene, the number of animals present made it obvious that a rescue operation was being run at the site once more.
She was convicted of numerous charges concerning her operation of the Golden S Rescue in 2014, when county officials seized more than a hundred animals from her. She was convicted of those charges, as well as a total of 114 additional charges brought against her in 2015, ranging from ill treatment of animals to failure to provide proof of rabies vaccinations. She is currently being held at the Detention Center after surrendering to the county Probation, Pardon and Parole Office Monday afternoon.
As a condition of her probation, she is forbidden to operate an animal rescue. Possession of a firearm while on probation presents another serious legal issue.
According to the incident report, the two deputies arrived at the scene just before 8 p.m. Saturday night, and found three women, including Sheridan, standing near the body of Sanders. According to the incident report, the women, two of whom were not identified, claimed that Sanders tried to break in, presumably into the house; though that is not made clear in the report.
Additional deputies and investigators arrived, and the three women were placed in separate patrol cars. Sheridan told the deputies that she had heard some tiles falling behind the shed where Sanders had been living, before Sheridan ran him and two people identified only as Nikki and Nubby off her property for allegedly stealing from her. That occurred four days prior to the shooting.
Members of Sanders’ family have claimed that he returned to the scene to retrieve personal belongings. Sanders had a Pickens address. They have denied Sheridan’s claim of self defense and have called for her arrest on charges of murder. A sign on the gate to Sheridan’s property reads “Warning! Property patrolled by a crazy bitch with a gun and a backhoe. Anyone found here at night will not be found here again.” There is at least one other more conventional No Trespassing sign on the property.
Upon hearing the noise, she reportedly went in the house and got a handgun. She claims to have fired two warning shots in the air, causing Sanders to come out from behind the shed. She then fired one shot in his direction. The shot entered Sanders body from the rear and exited his abdomen.
Official sources familiar with the case, speaking without attribution, stated that she claimed that Sanders bolted from a hiding place and startled her in the dark. He reportedly turned to run and she fired, striking him once.
Several neighbors apparently responded to the gunshots, and one of them, recognizing the victim, tried to get him into a car to take him to the hospital. The others insisted that calling 911 was the better course of action; but by then, Sanders had died.
Update: Following the Tuesday conference between Sheriff Chad McBride, ACSO investigators and the Solicitiors’ Office, no decision was made concerning the self defense claims of Sheridan. A review and eventual decision is awaiting the results of SLED’s examination of forensic evidence from the scene. The Pardon, Probation and Parole Office has confirmed that a five thousand dollar surety bond has been set for Sheridan.