RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (FinalCall.com) – Convicted of second degree manslaughter John White, 54, has been sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a drunken White teenager.
Suffolk County Judge Barbara Kahn broke down the sentence on March 20: Two years for an illegal gun charge, and 1 1/3 to 4 years for manslaughter. The sentences are to be served concurrently. Mr. White, who reacted to a mob of Whites that descended on his home and threatened his son Aaron and his wife in August 2006, faced 5 to 15 years with the convictions. He could spend more time in jail for having an illegal gun than for the manslaughter conviction.
“The sentence imposed today is not meant as a value of the life of Daniel Cicciaro,” said Judge Kahn.
“I will admit that (Judge) Barbara Kahn exercised courage in her sentencing of John White,” defense attorney Marie Michel told The Final Call. The judge talked about him spending one and a half years in direct supervision, which could mean Mr. White could be out of prison in a year, Ms. Michel speculated. “It was difficult seeing John in handcuffs,” she said.
Mr. White was expected to spend at least a few days in the Riverhead Correctional Facility as his three-member defense team petitioned the appellate court in Brooklyn for his release pending the outcome of his appeal. The court granted the petition and Mr. White is to be released on $200,000 bail. The construction foreman had been free on a $100,000 bond. He was convicted in December.
The parents of Daniel Cicciaro, the young man who was killed, were not happy with the sentence. During victim impact statements before the sentencing, the dead teen’s parents asked Judge Kahn to impose the maximum 5 to 15 years. His mother invoked the Bible, saying God demands revenge. The judge responded: “Vengeance is not a proper basis for penal sanctions.”
Daniel Cicciaro Sr. stormed out of court. Standing before a bank of media microphones, he declared, “Let’s see what happens when Aaron White gets shot. Let’s see what the laws are then.”
Mr. White’s attorneys immediately asked the prosecutor’s office to look at the father’s outburst and consider harassment charges by noon on March 20. They promised to take the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office, if nothing was done.
Defense attorney Fred Brewington told reporters Mr. Cicciaro’s remarks appeared to be a threat.
Calls to the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota were not returned, however two police cruisers are posted outside of the White’s home.
The incident that led to the death of young Cicciaro was fueled by a bogus internet message that said Aaron White, who was 19 at the time, wanted to rape a 15-year-old White girl. The quiet, somewhat studious looking young man, attended a party on the night of Aug. 9, 2006, when Daniel Cicciaro and some friends demanded that Aaron leave the party. He did. According to reports, the young lady was also at the party. During the three-week racially charged trial, it was learned that Aaron never sent the e-mail.
Daniel Cicciaro and four drunken friends then drove to the White family home in Miller Place on Long Island, issuing threats, uttering racial slurs and saying they would rape Aaron mother. John White has always maintained he went down his driveway to defend his family and his gun fired when the teen grabbed for it. During the trial, defense attorneys referred to the drunken teens as a “lynch mob.”
Judge Kahn, before announcing the sentence, referred to the remaining four teens as “the uncharged moral accessories.” Judge Khan said she was struck by each witnesses’ “minimization of their role.” The teens were given immunity by the prosecutor’s office in exchange for grand jury testimony. The Rev. Al Sharpton led a massive demonstration in front of the Riverhead Courthouse in January, demanding that the teens be charged.
The Dec. 22 guilty verdict followed a 12-hour marathon deliberation that ended after 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, just two days from Christmas Eve. Two jurors later said they had been leaning toward acquittal, but changed their votes after Judge Kahn indicated they could be brought back on that Sunday. According to reports, twice over the three days of deliberation the deadlocked jurors were encouraged by the judge to continue.
Before his sentencing, John White responded to a charge from the Cicciaros that he showed no remorse. “I’ve always been remorseful,” he said, speaking almost in a whisper. “I’ve thought about this every day of my life.”
Mrs. Sonia White, speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, said her husband should not be going to jail because he was only “trying to protect his family.”
Kevin Muhammad, student minister at New York’s Muhammad Mosque No. 7, agreed with Mrs. White. “This case should never had gone to trial,” he said. Mr. Muhammad and members of the Fruit of Islam accompanied the White family during the trial, along with members of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. Aaron White has worn a bullet-proof vest whenever he appeared at the courthouse with his father. He has moved away from home, due to constant threats on his life. The threats started before his father’s trial began.
“Why isn’t the news media reporting that the victim’s father almost started a melee in the courtroom, when he physically tried to challenge a member of 100 Blacks?” asked Mr. Muhammad, who told The Final Call, he spent the night before the sentencing with Mr. White. “I told him we will accept the will of God; and we pray that his will, will be justice,” stated Mr. Muhammad.
“Ironically, I also told John White that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad taught us as we walk upright in society, it would be recognized and respected by others; and that is just why Judge Kahn gave him only two years. She spoke kindly of John White before she sentenced him.
“The judge also told the Cicciaro family that they shared some level of responsibility for their son’s behavior on the night of his death,” Mr. Muhammad noted.
Shortly after the sentencing the only Black neighbor of the Cicciaros reported that his home had been vandalized. Someone drove across his lawn, knocked down a light pole and dented his car. Daniel Cicciaro denied any connection to the incident.