ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The former owner of an animal rescue in Anderson County is now in prison.
A judge sentenced Debra Sheridan on Friday to two years in prison after a probation violation. However, the judge reduced that time by nine months for the time Sheridan has already spent on house arrest.
Sheridan has a criminal history dating back to 2014, but what ended up landing her in prison is being in possession of a gun that she used to kill a man while on probation.
That man was 37-year-old, Jerry Sanders.
“We relive it every day,” said Samantha Yates, Jerry Sanders’ cousin. “It’s hard to get peace when you’re constantly trying to figure out what happened.”
Deputies say Sheridan acted in self-defense during the shooting on her property.
They say 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.
Yates said Sanders lived on the property and helped Sheridan with the animals at the Golden S Rescue. However, she said her cousin and Sheridan had a falling out, and he moved off the property about a week before the shooting. She said the night of the shooting he had come back to retrieve something.
“He was such a sweet person,” Yates said. “Jerry was not a mean person or an aggressive person.”
The Solicitor’s Office did not press charges for the shooting which the family struggles with because the coroner says Sanders was shot in the back.
“To me that doesn’t say scared,” Yates said.
At the time of the shooting, Sheridan was on probation for animal vaccination violations and drug charges. She had also tested positive for meth several times during her probation.
Sanders’ family says someone should’ve been checking.
“If they had been paying attention, she wouldn’t have had the gun to begin with,” Yates said.
Fighting Injustice Together says they’re writing a letter on behalf of the Sanders family to take to the US attorney’s office to ask them to take a closer look at the case.