Thursday, January 17, 2008

Will John White A Black Man Recieve Justice?

Will John White A Black Man Receive Justice?

On December 22, 2007 a Suffolk County New York jury composed of ten whites one black and one Latino found John White, 54 of Miller Place Long Island guilty of second degree manslaughter and criminal weapons charges in the death of Daniel Cicciaro Jr. Cicciaro a white teen and four intoxicated friends trespassed onto White’s property last summer threatening White’s 19 year old son Aaron, White and his wife. White was found guilty following a tense and emotionally charged four week trial. The case and trail generated emotional strain because it pitted Aaron, John and Sonia White an African-American family whose peace and property had been disturbed by five drunken, hostile white youth on Thursday August 9, 2007. The boys came onto the White’s property threatening their son Aaron White then 19 years old. According to reports Aaron had been at a party and was confronted by Cicciaro who accused him of threatening to rape a fifteen year old white girl. Aaron left the party, went home woke his father up and told him some white boys were coming after him. According to Mr. White’s testimony his son was petrified when he came in and told him what had happened. According to the father, Aaron became even more frightened when the whites rolled up onto their property around 11:30 that night.
The father got up, got dressed, secured his shotgun and a pistol but put the shotgun down before going outside to confront the rowdy and boisterous youth. On the way out the door White told his wife to call 9-11. According to Mrs. White’s testimony she froze and didn’t do anything, she just stood there in shock and horror. The boys outside her house at the end of her driveway were disrespectful shouting racial slurs and threatening to do bodily harm to the whole family. Mr White went outside confronted the boys and according to him Cicciaro tried to grab White’s pistol. The gun discharged hitting Cicciaro in the face fatally wounding him.
When the case went to trial in December the courtroom atmosphere was tense. The trial lasted four weeks. African-Amerian supporters of the White family sat on one side of the courtroom and white supporters of the Cicciaros the other. News accounts said several jurors cried when Mrs. White shared her experiences that fateful night. By all accounts the jury was having a difficult time reaching any verdict in the emotionally charged case, repeatedly asking for clarification from presiding Judge Barbara Khan. After four days of deliberations, two jurors were still holding out for various reasons when Judge Khan asked them around 8:30 Saturday night for a Sunday schedule . Her request gave some jurors the impression they may have to report for jury duty the next day which was a Sunday two days before Christmas. The jurors retired to the deliberation room, the two holdouts eventually relented coming back with a guilty verdict within an hour.
After the verdict one juror Mr Francois Larche a former citizen of South Africa told the local press he felt pressured to go along with his fellow jurors. http://www.newsday.com/news/local/ny-limill1226,0,4641371.story Larche said during deliberations his fellow jurors chastised him and the other juror fo not going along. Things were so tense during the trial members of the Nation of Islam accompanied the Whites to and from the courthouse serving as protection for the family. After Cicciaro’s death, Aaron White received threats over the Internet prior to the trial. He reported them to the authorities and the local police were able to track the juvenile and identify him. But no arrests were made. According to Larche’s public statements, White was justified in his actions.
During the trial, prosecutors seemed to disregard the actions of Cicciaro and his four intoxicated companions, focusing exclusively on John White’s actions. The White’s live in Miller Place an essentially segregated area of Long Island a borough that doesn’t have a lot of African-Americans. The family resides a home Mr White who is a construction foreman built for his family. Defense attorneys depicted White as a hard working, quiet, church going family man and a good citizen. White is free on bail and is awaiting sentencing which will take place on February 21, 2008.
Following the verdict Rev. Al Sharpton and his Black Action Network staged a march and demonstration at the Suffolk County courthouse to bring more attention to the case. The ethnically diverse crowd at the demonstration numbered about four hundred participants and onlookers. Sharpton took the opportunity to raise the very pertinent issue of why the white youths who came to White’s home and threatened his son, his wife and him were not arrested, charged or prosecuted? Why were they allowed to go Scott free? White could face 5-15 years in prison. All eyes are on this case to see what type of sentence White will receive and what his attorneys will do if the Judge takes a hard line on him.

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