PICKENS — A deadly mix of drugs and ongoing domestic violence came to a brutal head March 25 while Katherine Ann Henderson and a friend were collecting her belongings to vacate her Franklin Finley Road mobile home in Dacusville.
As the pair hid two rifles — an 8mm and a 22-caliber — Travis Scott Whitman came home and found them in the back bedroom, where he pulled a fixed blade hunting knife and threatened to cut Henderson’s throat. The altercation between the three escalated and Whitman grabbed the 8mm rifle, stepping out into the hall to manipulate the bolt.
When he stepped back into the doorway, Henderson shot him one time in the chest, killing him.
On Tuesday, 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins announced that his office would not be filing charges against Henderson.
The decision, he said, was determined by a number of factors, including the presence of methamphetamines in Whitman’s toxicology report, the history of violence, witness statements and physical evidence from the scene.
“The evidence strongly suggests there was a fear on the part of Miss Henderson and Miss (Brandi) Payne,” Wilkins said. “Mr. Whitman was able to obtain a weapon and there was a confrontation then and there. With the totality of the circumstances, there are no charges we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury in Pickens County.”
Wilkins said Henderson and Payne were in a position they feared for their lives, creating a circumstance constituting self-defense.
“Miss Henderson and Miss Payne were afraid for their lives and under our state’s Stand Your Ground laws and self-defense laws, she (Henderson) had a reasonable fear where she could defend herself,” Wilkins said. “In fact she did, firing one round from the .22 rifle.”
Creed Hashe, chief deputy of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, said the PCSD had been dispatched to the couple’s home at 537 Franklin Finley Road more than 22 times.
“There was a pretty substantial history of abuse in this relationship between Mr. Whitman and Miss Henderson,” Hashe said.
Part of that history included a criminal domestic violence conviction against Whitman the morning of the shooting that stemmed from a 2012 incident in Greenville County.
Hashe said there had been an ongoing altercation between Henderson and Whitman the day of the shooting and Whitman had left the residence.
“When Mr. Whitman returned to the home, he found Miss Henderson and Miss Payne in the bedroom in the process of hiding the weapons,” Hashe said. “All three were in the back bedroom and the altercation escalated when Mr. Whitman pulled a fixed blade hunting knife, stating he intended to slash her (Henderson’s) throat.”
Investigators said Whitman was standing in the doorway blocking Henderson and Payne’s exit from the room when he lunged for and grabbed the rifle.
Hashe said Whitman “came back into the doorway with the rifle in both hands. That’s when Miss Henderson fired a single shot, striking Mr. Whitman in the upper chest. He was able to walk a few feet before collapsing at the scene.”