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.
“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.””
I can see that. There are LOTS of lynching on Long Island. Just once I would like to see a black guy get in trouble and NOT play the race card.
These kids were just plain stupid.
The father was also stupid. He should have called 911.
As long as the kids on the outside were not damaging his property he really had no right to shoot them.
Dumb moves lead to disastrous results. In this case a dead kid and a father who needs to serve some time.
He thought his “race shield” was license to do just that.
Let's get our facts straight, shall we? The article actually says: "in a tape-recorded 911 call, one of the youths can be heard shouting racial slurs as he vows to avenge the victim." Which means, if one were to read it, that ONE of the youths shouted racial slurs AFTER the unarmed teen was killed. The boys came to the house asking specifically for the son to come outside and fight one of them. Sounds like a gauntlet-throw to come duke it out one-on-one over a previous encounter, and the angry mob of three friends were there to egg it on. Note that they were outside "inches away from the public street" so they weren't trying to break into the house, and they were unarmed, while the father and son were armed. It was a war of words until the father shot.
I hope he wins his appeal. The four thugs were looking for trouble. They found it.
He should have gotten rid of his nasty guns years ago. Then when thugs threaten him, he could hide under the bed and hope the police arrive in time to protect him. /SARC
“why did they travel out to this kids house to challenge him to a fight”
Good question, however challenging someone to a fight does not warrant use of deadly force.
Did this idiot kid get a Darwin Award?
He should have got the kids to come inside, then plugged ‘em.
The 911 call was after he shot the man. The friend was vowing to “avenge the victim.”
Read it again, It says the 911 call was made after the shooting, not before. The guy was in the wrong. Staying in the house and calling 911 would have been the way to go. If they attempted to enter then you shoot, but not out on the street. The only thing I disagree on is the possession law, which I think is wrong. As far as the shooting goes the facts, as given in the article, do not justify the guy shooting the kid. Running your mouth isn't a life threatening offense.
For some reason, that doesn't seem particularly bright. If you just saw someone shoot your buddy, would you stand there and shout racist slurs at them?
That would be prudent. What happened in this instance sounds totally different.
They called police after shooting the young man. And if he was so concerned for his safety, why was he "inches away from the public street" as the article also stated?
Sorry, I missed that. Did not read it intently enough and pick up the part about avenging the victim. He should have armed himself and called the cops immediately. That’s where he screwed up. I can tell you this, a bunch of jutes out in the front of my house threatening my son is something I would take seriously. I would not fluff it off like you are appearing to do. The homeowner screwed up by not calling the cops.
Thats a fairly illogical response. These kids weren’t attacking the house, they weren’t a threat except to this guys ego.
‘but I can certainly see them feeling threatened by having these “jutes” out in front of their house. “
Sure thats why an appropriate response would be to call 911 and then are yourself in case the threat was escalated.
“You have four teenagers (sound like older teens, 17 etc..) threatening and challenging your son to a fight, it’s serious. “
Sure, a serious ass whoopin. Don’t know the law there but here in Florida “I’m gonna kick your butt” is not justification for use of deadly force. Especially when those kids did not have any weapons.
These kids were not in the house and were not attempting to get into the house.