Posted Dec. 19, 2007 – John White might never have killed a 17-year-old White boy last year if the lynching ways of the Ku Klux Klan hadn’t driven his grandfather out of Alabama many years ago.
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It was during John White's trial Friday, in the fatal shooting of Daniel Cicciaro, that he recalled his childhood fears that served as a backdrop to the current tragedy.
“In my family history, that’s how the Klan comes,” said White, who some describe as a gentle, peaceful man. “They pull up; they blind you with their lights. They burn your house down. They threaten your family. That’s how they come.”
So when Cicciaro and four other White youths showed up at his door last year yelling racial slurs and demanding to see White’s son, who they believed had threatened a young girl, White stood waving the loaded Berretta that was given to him by his grandfather, trying to back the youths off his property.
They were like a “lynch mob,” White told the jury Tuesday as he began to break down in a flood of tears. “Some little guy popped up on me. He tried to snatch the gun. I pulled back and it fired. I didn’t mean to shoot this young man — he’s another child of God.”
On Monday, the judge in the case ruled that the jury can consider the lesser charge of second-degree reckless endangerment, rather than the initial manslaughter charge, which carries five to 15 years in prison.
Reckless endangerment carries no minimum sentence.
Prosecutors contend that White deserves to be convicted and sent away to prison for waving a loaded weapon at unarmed youths. Fred Brewington, one of White’s three attorneys, however, said, “You can't close your eyes on the issue of race in this case. They went to go beat this ni**er’s ass. That’s what they said. They went to this man's house to do a modern-day lynching."
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