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Father loses appeal in teen's shooting

By Frank Eltman Associated Press | Last updated: Jun 4, 2010 - 3:48:15 PM

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In this December 2007 file photo, John White speaks to The Final Call regarding his being charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an intoxicated White teenager during a racially charged confrontation with two carloads of young people at the end of his driveway. His son stands in the background. Mr. White was later convicted in March 2008, but has been out on bail pending his appeal. A state appeals court upheld White's manslaughter conviction on May 21.
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - A Black homeowner dealing with a mob of White teens allegedly spewing racial epithets outside his home should have called police, not confronted them with a loaded pistol, an appeals court said as it upheld his manslaughter conviction in the death of one of the teens.

The ruling by a State Supreme Court appellate panel of four judges rejected several legal arguments made by attorneys for 56-year-old John White. The ruling was posted on a court web site late May 20.

Mr. White was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the August 2006 killing of Daniel Cicciaro Jr. He also was found guilty of a weapons charge.

He was sentenced to 2-to-4 years in prison, much less than the maximum of 15 years. He has been free on bail pending the appeal. One of his attorneys, Fred Brewington, said his client is disappointed by the decision and is weighing other legal options.

It was not immediately clear when Mr. White's bail status would be re-examined, Atty. Brewington said.

Mr. Cicciaro and some friends had been feuding with Mr. White's teenage son through cell phone messages when several carloads arrived outside the White home near midnight. Prosecutors conceded Mr. Cicciaro was intoxicated at the time. The conflict was further fueled by a bogus Internet posting claiming Aaron White wanted to rape a female friend of one of the White teens.

Mr. White, who testified in his own defense, said Aaron awakened him around 11 p.m. to say the teens had left a party and were headed to their house in Miller Place, a predominantly White community on eastern Long Island.

The construction worker, who testified that he grew up in Brooklyn hearing stories about how the Ku Klux Klan torched his grandfather's business in Alabama in the 1920s, said he feared a similar attack was about to happen.

John White and family
Photos: Final Call Archives
He loaded a pistol and gave his son a shotgun and the two went to the end of their driveway—a distance the court noted was 81 feet from their front door. Mr. Cicciaro was just 3 inches from the pistol when he was shot in the face, a medical examiner testified.

Mr. White claimed the handgun accidentally discharged.

“Considering all of these circumstances, there is thus ample support for the jury's conclusion that a reasonable person in the defendant's position, and with his background and experiences, would not have believed that the use of deadly physical force was necessary to prevent the teenagers from unlawfully entering or attempting to enter his home to commit a crime, and that the shooting was thus not justified,” the appeals court ruled.

Mr. White's legal team also had argued the jury may have been coerced into a verdict because while it was deliberating on a Saturday night, Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn had asked if any of them had a religious obligation the following day.

But the appeals panel said, “The mere fact that the trial court's offer to accommodate religious obligations suggested that deliberations would continue the next day was not coercive and did not constitute error.”

Related news:

Will deadly clash with White mob send devoted father to jail? (FCN, 01-10-2008)

Mother recalls fatal night of mob attack (01-17-2008)