Teacher stabbed 8 years ago dies

Special
Gail Hendrick was a Murphey Middle School teacher in 1999 when a pupil attacked her.

A former Richmond County special education teacher who was attacked by one of her pupils nearly eight years ago died Thursday.

Linda Gail Hendrick, 59, was pronounced dead at about 2:30 p.m. by a hospice nurse at her parents' home in west Augusta, Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said.

Ms. Hendrick had remained in a coma since being severely beaten and stabbed by her 14-year-old pupil, David Drayton, on Nov. 22, 1999.

During testimony in Richmond County Juvenile Court in December 1999, Mr. Drayton admitted attacking his teacher, but never said why.

On Dec. 15, Mr. Drayton was convicted of aggravated assault and received a five-year sentence. After sentencing, District Attorney Danny Craig said Mr. Drayton could be charged with murder and tried as an adult in Superior Court if Ms. Hendrick died.

On Thursday night, Mr. Craig said he "could not comment" on whether Ms. Hendrick's death will prompt murder charges.

Mr. Tuten said he could not conclude whether Ms. Hendrick's injuries resulted in her death but was waiting for the results of an autopsy being performed Thursday night.

Mr. Craig said he visited Ms. Hendrick's home for most of Thursday afternoon, adding that "this a family of strong and faithful people. In times like this people like this are carried by their faith and love of community."

Since the attack, Ms. Hendrick's caretakers have been her elderly parents, Anola and Peter Hendrick. Ken Gordon, her former fianc, also has remained supportive, Mr. Craig said.

The attack against Ms. Hendrick occurred in a bathroom attached to her classroom at Murphey Middle School. The attack left the teacher to suffer from what Mr. Craig described as a lingering "traumatic brain injury."

She was stabbed 70 times with a pair of scissors.

In response to the devastating attack and short sentencing, the General Assembly passed the Gail Hendrick Law in 2000, giving juvenile judges authority to try juveniles as adults if older than 13.

Mr. Craig said the new law elevated aggravated battery, a crime that had been considered a misdemeanor, to felony status.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.