Road rage convict released – Henson serves four years of

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

13-year sentence

By Candace Parker/Reporter News Editor

A Shelby County woman who earned the distinction of being the first woman in the country charged with murder in a road rage crime was released last week.

Shirley Henson, now 45, served four years and about two months of a 13-year sentence for the slaying of Gena Foster of Columbiana, according to Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Corbett said Henson was released from Tutwiler Women’s Correctional Facility on Jan. 25. She had been transferred to Tutwiler on Jan. 5 after having spent time in Louisiana since June 2003 due to the state’s overcrowded prison population.

Henson’s 13-year sentence was handed down by Shelby County Judge Al Crowson in December 2000 following a November verdict which found Henson guilty of manslaughter.

The incident occurred Nov. 8, 1999, when both Henson and Foster were traveling south on Interstate 65. For about five miles approaching Alabaster Exit 238, the two women became increasingly angry with one another, slamming on brakes, tailgating, blinking their headlights and gesturing with their hands, according to testimony from the trial.

They took the same exit, Exit 238, and when they stopped at the traffic light, Foster got out of her car and headed toward Henson, who was still in her SUV.

Witnesses indicated during the trial that Foster was visibly angry as she walked toward Henson’s vehicle.

Henson apparently retrieved a licensed revolver from the console and shot one time, hitting Foster in the face and killing her instantly.

Henson told CBS TV news magazine, 48 Hours, which reported on the event in 2000, she felt threatened by Foster’s gestures once she left her car and felt she had no other choice.

Officials from the Shelby County District Attorney’s office argued, however, that Henson did have other choices including pulling away from the exit and calling the police when Foster approached her.

Henson was 40 years old at the time of her conviction. She lived with her husband, Michael, and her son, Steve, in Alabaster.

Foster, 34 at the time of her death, was survived by her three children, Brittany, Christopher and Francie.