Skip to comments.Black Homeowner's Claim of Self-Defense Rejected in Fatal Shooting(NY)
Posted on 05/25/2010 4:58:51 AM PDT by marktwain
An appeals court in Brooklyn on Friday upheld the conviction for manslaughter and gun possession of a Long Island, N.Y., black man who shot a white teenager to death in a confrontation in front of the man's home.
John H. White was sentenced to two to four years in prison for killing the teen, Daniel Cicciaro Jr., 17, who arrived at White's house along with four other teens in two cars and challenged White's son Aaron, 19, to fight as the group shouted racial epithets at the son and father, both of whom were armed.
A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, upheld the jury's rejection of White's defense that the shooting was justified because he believed he was defending his family from a "lynch mob."
The appellate panel found that the jury's rejection of the defense was not against the weight of the evidence. Justice Randall T. Eng writing for the panel noted that White testified that he had not observed any weapons in the hands of the teens, and Aaron had testified that Cicciaro had challenged him to come into the street to fight.
"The victim's clearly expressed desire to fight Aaron outside undercuts the claim that the defendant reasonably believed the youths were going to attempt to enter his home," Eng wrote in People v. White, 2662/06.
In addition, Eng wrote, White could have called 911 for police assistance, a "clear alternative" to confronting the youths who had gathered outside his home.
Justices Steven W. Fisher, Daniel D. Angiolillo and Plummer E. Lott joined the decision.
White has been free on $200,000 bail pending the appeal. Once a surrender date is set by Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn she will be required to order him to begin serving his prison term unless a stay is issued by the New York Court of Appeals.
White's appellate lawyer, Richard E. Mischel, said he had asked the court to continue White's bail until it decides his application for leave to appeal.
Mischel said that "the argument before the 2nd Department seemed to go well, and we are hopeful that the court will grant our application to take the case to the next level."
The Aug. 9, 2006, killing inflamed racial tensions in Miller Place, a predominately white community on eastern Long Island where the White home was located.
The prosecution and defense presented "sharply different" versions of how the confrontation developed, the circumstances in which the fatal shot was fired and the role of race in the shooting, Eng wrote.
White, testifying in his defense, said he was awakened around 11 p.m. when Aaron told him, with "absolute terror" in his voice, "these people are coming to try to kill me."
All four of Cicciaro's friends denied at the trial that they had used racial epithets during the confrontation in front of the White home, but Eng noted that "in a tape-recorded 911 call, one of the youths can be heard shouting racial slurs as he vows to avenge the victim."
At the conclusion of the 14-page opinion, Eng expressed some sympathy for White's predicament, writing "the law does not require that we turn a blind eye to human emotion, and we can appreciate that a parent in the defendant's situation would be concerned for the welfare of his son, and feel anger as the situation began to unfold."
He concluded, however, that White "took the life of a 17-year-old, shooting him at close range under circumstances which do not amount to legal justification."
At White's sentencing, according to The New York Times, Judge Kahn went out of her way to describe Cicciaro's four companions as "moral accessories" in the death of their friend. "They did not hold the gun, they did not pull the trigger, but they share responsibility," she was quoted as saying.
CONVICTION ON GUN CHARGE
The 2nd Department also upheld White's conviction for possession of a weapon outside his home. White had argued that his possession of a loaded .32 caliber Beretta pistol in his driveway constituted possession within his home.
Possession of an unlicensed loaded firearm outside of the home was at the time of the sentencing a Class D felony punishable by a maximum term of 2 1/3 to seven years in prison. Possession of a loaded gun inside one's home is a misdemeanor, carrying a top punishment of one year in jail.
The sentences all ran concurrently. White could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter.
Eng found unavailing White's argument that possession of the gun in his driveway was tantamount to possessing it in his home. The court's precedents have narrowly construed the word "home" in Penal Law §70.02[b], the justice wrote, as reflecting a legislative judgment that possession of a gun in one's home is "less reprehensible that possession for other purposes" (quoting from People v. Powell, 54 NY2d 524).
White's possession of a gun at the "edge of his driveway, inches away from the public street," Eng concluded, does not warrant the same concerns for privacy as would possession in his home.
In asking for permission to take the case to the Court of Appeals, Mischel said he would press a legal point that took up a large portion of his 50-minute oral argument on Oct. 23.
The defense argued that it only belatedly received a tip that Cicciaro had used racial slurs while in the showroom of a Ford dealership only two weeks before the incident at the White home. Had the prosecution provided timely notice of the incident, which had been investigated by the police, the defense could have used the information to test the testimony of Cicciaro's four friends that there was no racial component to the confrontation, Mischel said.
Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Thomas C. Costello, who argued the appeal for the prosecution, said the panel had conducted an "exhaustive review" of White's legal claims and reached a result "that comports with the law on each point."
Lisa Marlow, also of Mischel & Horn, worked on White's brief; Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Marion M. Tang worked on the prosecution brief.
I hope he goes to jail for longer than that.
Those are some really stupid kids. Yelling racial epithats to two armed black men. Perhaps according to the law this was the correct ruling, but in my mind, this shooting seems justified. If the father and son had walked inside, you know those kids would not have stopped.
This was a 911 call, this man tried to use home invasion as his defense. He did not have to have a confrontation with this young boy.
I think there was a racial component, this mans decision to shoot a white boy.
Why ON EARTH would you go outside and escalate this issue and shoot the kid?
‘but in my mind, this shooting seems justified”
Really? Where is the threat of great bodily harm or property?
Do you also support shooting people for cutting you off in traffic?
Maybe its racial maybe it aint. I just know that if a bunch of young ‘hoodlums’ showed up like that & shouting epithets and taunts I would be real fearful too.
Don’t jump on me! I am only looking at the facts from what is presented in this case. I realize I could be wrong or don’t have all of the facts. I think we can both agree that these kids are stupid. The next thing is, were they criminal. I have to ask, why did they travel out to this kids house to challenge him to a fight. What else was said in the altercation? Did they convey threats?
I can tell you that if I had four punks outside my house harrassing me and not leaving I would definitely arm myself and call the police. What happens next depends on how the situation unfolds. How long did it take the police to respond once he called 911?
I think you’re right. First, these kids were stupid enough to start something with someone who is armed (and they weren’t). That’s doing us a favor, removing such stupidity from the gene pool. Second, I believe in that situation the homeowner had a reasonable belief his life and the life of his son were in danger. Of course, I didn’t read the transcripts from the trial or anything, but at first blush it sounds reasonable.
Looks like stupidity on both sides.
One thing that I just thought of. I wonder how many on here are condemning this black homeowner also were defending the man in Houston Tx who went out of his home to his neighbor’s house and killed the two illegals robbing his neighbor. None of his property or life was at stake.
I’m just saying....
How do you know the kids would not have stopped. And this was not a JUSTIFIABLE shooting. This was not a home invasion and when the son came in claiming someone wanted him dead - the Father should have called “911”.
Sorry, this man has no right to take the life of the 17 year old.
I wonder how you would react to four thugs standing in your yard threating your son. Challenging a man with a gun shows extraordinary threat and stupidity. In the end all these punks had to do was leave when an armed homeowner showed that he was willing to protect his family and property.
That was my immediate thought as well after I read the first comment criticizing the homeowner.
You thing you can be sure of is that if the homeowner had been a cop, there would have never been a trial.
The main thing I see wrong is the homeowner was way out at the end of his property.
If he had stayed on or very near his porch and they had advanced within inches of him, as stated in the report and shouting threats, he would have a better chance of it being a legal shooting. Escpecially at night, at least those are the rules under the Castle Doctrine in Texas.
However, with him being in NY there are probably rules that you have to retreat from a threat.