Drayton neighbor shocked at arrest

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June 4, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---As David Drayton sits in jail, people who live near him are still in shock about his arrest Friday afternoon (June 1).

Drayton has lived with his parents in a quiet south Augusta neighborhood since he got out of jail in 2005. The residents we talked with say it's hard for them to believe he could have committed such a horrific crime.

One elderly woman who asked to remain anonymous told News 12 she couldn't believe what she saw last Friday afternoon. As she sat in her home, she witnessed police arresting her neighbor, 22-year-old David Drayton. She describes Drayton as a young man who was always polite, and who despite his handicap just seemed to live an active life.

She doesn't defend at all what he did to Gail Hendrick, but she says she feels sorry for him and his family just the same.

"I felt like crying, but I said well...don't let me get too upset," she said. "And that made me feel bad when I seen him, you know, they came over there and got him."

As a 14-year-old, Drayton was tried as a juvenile and served the maximum five years in juvenile prison. Now, at 22, he's charged with Gail Hendrick's murder.

The elderly neighbor says she understands how this horrible event can impact those around him. She herself has a son who's incarcerated.

"I said, let me calm my nerves down. Didn't want to get my blood pressure up," she said. "I just hope that he be all right, the family over there is all right, because I know how I felt when mine went (to jail)."

In 2000, Georgia lawmakers passed the Gail Hendrick law, giving juvenile judges authority to try juveniles as adults if older than 13.

The new law elevated aggravated battery, a crime that had been considered a misdemeanor, to felony status.

And because Gail Hendrick died, the charge of murder still stands.

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