Woman sentenced to 13 years for 'road rage' killing

COLUMBIANA, Ala. - A woman was sentenced to 13 years in prison Monday for the ''road rage'' shooting death of another motorist on a highway exit ramp.

Shirley Henson, 41, was convicted of manslaughter for killing Gena Foster, a 34-year-old mother of three.

Prosecutors said Henson tailgated Foster for several miles on Interstate 65 as the two women drove from work to their homes in suburban Birmingham in 1999.

Circuit Judge Al Crowson - who said all drivers have ''a little road rage'' in them - said neither probation, as requested by the defense, nor the maximum sentence of 20 years was appropriate.

''I really don't understand what happened out there,'' the judge told Henson. ''I look at you and it puzzles me.''

Henson would be eligible for parole in about 4 years.

Henson declined to make a statement in court, and neither she nor her lawyers had any comment afterward.

The victim's mother, Patricia Newell of Sun City, Ariz., cried as she testified at the sentencing. ''I'm in more pain than I am in anger,'' she said.

Originally charged with murder, Henson was convicted of a lesser offense in October.

Prosecutors said Henson, driving a sport-utility vehicle, stayed on the bumper of Foster's car even as Foster speeded up. Foster got out of her car on an exit ramp and walked back to Henson's vehicle. Henson, who claimed she feared for her life, rolled down her window and shot Foster once in the face.

The defense said Foster was driving erratically and acting in a threatening way. Witnesses testified Foster had a volatile personality, and Henson's lawyers contended she was addicted to a prescription painkiller that could have worsened her behavior.

Defense attorney David Cromwell Johnson said he will appeal.


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