• 48°

Sentence in 2017 DUI case reduced

NATCHEZ — A Natchez man’s 20-year sentence in a 2017 DUI incident in which he hit and killed a Natchez woman was reduced to 12 years in a resentencing hearing last week.

District 6-2 Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell initially sentenced Gary White to 20 years in prison on March 25 after he pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to manslaughter in the 2017 incident in which he hit a female pedestrian who was crossing U.S. 61 in Natchez.

On March 28, White, under representation of a new attorney, Anthony Heidelberg, filed a motion to reconsider or reduce his sentence, according to court records, on grounds that White’s former attorney did not notify him of an earlier plea arrangement offered by the state.

Court records state that Assistant District Attorney Tim Cotton, after consulting with the victim’s family, offered a plea arrangement to attorney Alton Peterson, who was representing White at that time.

“The offer was for the defendant to enter a plea of guilty to the felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death … and the state would drop the felony charge of aggravated DUI …,” states the court order dated April 15 allowing withdrawal of the guilty plea. “Mr. Cotton stated that he was surprised that Mr. Peterson quickly rejected the state’s plea offer. … Unbeknownst to the state, Mr. Peterson did not inform or discuss this plea offer with the defendant (White).”

In the interim, another assistant district attorney, Pamela Ferrington, took over the case from Cotton and Farmington said she never discussed the rejected plea deal with Peterson, the court order states.

Ferrington later offered a plea arrangement for manslaughter, which Peterson relayed to White and White accepted, without having known about the first plea offer.

When Heidelberg took over as White’s attorney, he investigated the case and learned that White had never received the first plea offer from Peterson, and Heidelberg filed a motion to reconsider or reduce sentence.

After hearing the evidence, Blackwell signed a sentencing order on April 16 allowing White to withdraw his guilty plea to manslaughter and to enter a guilty plea to felony leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Under the new plea arrangement, Blackwell sentenced White to 12 years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with full credit for any time served and to pay all court costs and fees, including a $200 prosecution fee.

At the March 25 sentencing hearing, Blackwell heard testimony from White’s family members and friends vouching for his character and seeking leniency in sentencing him since he had no prior convictions. A pre-sentencing investigation ordered by Blackwell and conducted by the Mississippi Department of Correction revealed no previous convictions or prior record.

After hearing the testimony on March 25, Blackwell handed down the 20-year sentence, saying the punishment was based partly on a lack of compassion White had shown for not calling 911 immediately after the incident and sitting in a nearby Walmart parking lot as law enforcement investigated the case.

White could have faced a maximum of 40-years for the offense. However, some members of the community questioned the length of the sentence, including members of the NAN who planned to protest the verdict on the courthouse steps.

The protest was later canceled.

News

Neighbor helping neighbor a common sight after winter storm

News

Supervisors: No employee raises possible because of budget concerns

News

Chamber pot spares Stanton Hall from further storm damage

News

Supervisors approve payment system for attorneys

News

3 alleged to have broken into vehicles in Beau Pre in Adams County custody

News

Six scouts sworn in as Eagle Scouts together

News

Dart:Sagos mix business with Rhythm Night Club passion project

News

J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

News

Author Richard Grant speaks about book, Natchez at Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration

Business

New machinery introduced at Natchez countertop business

News

Vidalia still under boil water advisory after winter storm

News

Natchez hires assistance for storm cleanup

News

Bishop Gunn lead singer McCready arrested Thursday in Concordia Parish

News

Vidalia missing teen found after extensive search

News

Law enforcement agencies continue search for missing 17-year-old

News

Natchez hires help in procuring disaster relief funds due to winter storm damage

News

Officials OK signs for high school sports championship row

DEVELOPING NEWS

Adams County Water Association lifts boil water notice

COVID-19

Teachers, first responders to be eligible for vaccine Monday

News

Mississippi House votes to overhaul several state taxes

News

Three men arrested in connection with 2018 double homicide

News

Natchez Water Works lifts boil water advisory

News

Ferriday man arrested for alleged assault on power line workers

News

Health care workers excited to open Trinity Medical Center