Woman killed man in self-defense say officials

Debra Sheridan (Source: Anderson Co. Detention Center).
Debra Sheridan (Source: Anderson Co. Detention Center).

ANDERSON Co., S.C. (WSPA) — A woman, who authorities say fatally shot a man, did so in self-defense, according to a joint news release from Solicitor David R. Wagner and Anderson Co. Sheriff Chad McBride.

Debra Sheridan, 51, of Easley was accused of shooting and killing Jerry Sanders, 37.

Officials say Sheridan was acting in self-defense on property she owns.

She heard a noise behind her and a loud crash coming from the same direction as she opened the door to the home.

She got a gun and went back outside and fired a warning shot into the area. Officials say Sanders jumped up behind some property and starting flailing his arms and screaming at her.

Investigators says Sheridan jumped back and fired. She then heard a second man saying “Jerry” and realized she knew the man she had shot and had been previously been allowed to live in an outbuilding on the property, but was no longer living there.

They say Sanders was dressed in dark clothing and was wearing a face covering.

“Mr. Sanders was of a substantially larger build than Ms. Sheridan, who is a petite female. His behavior would startle anyone in a similar situation, and it is not unreasonable to think that to protect herself after feeling threatened Ms. Sheridan believed she had to fire a shot in the direction of the large male charging at her. Further, though it has been alleged that Ms. Sheridan and Mr. Sanders were in contact by phone the day of this incident, there has been no evidence found by the Sheriff’s Office investigation to support that claim,” according to the report.

Sheridan was on probation for a 2014 animal cruelty and drug case when the shooting happened.

Authorities say unlawful possession of a firearm does not automatically bar a self-defense charge.

Sheridan’s attorney said her conviction is being appealed and said she has to have surgery for a pit bull attack. Her attorney says they could prove the drug charge stems from a prescription that Sheridan had.

Animal control officers say they found dozens of dogs on her property in poor health in 2014. Sheridan claimed she was operating an animal rescue at the time.

Sheridan was cleared of animal cruelty charges, but a jury found her guilty of two counts of rabies violations and methamphetamine possession in November 2015. She received a three-year sentence. Her sentence was suspended to five years of probation and she was made to surrender her animals to a rescue organization.

According to the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, Sheridan violated probation by testing positive for methamphetamine.