Keeping It Right

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Jury Convicts Black Man in Shooting Death of White Teen
Long Island Case Involved Questions of Race, Recklessness

By Frank Eltman
Associated Press
Monday, December 24, 2007; A05

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. -- A black man who invoked images of lynch mobs in explaining why he killed a white teenager has been convicted of second-degree manslaughter because a jury rejected defense lawyers' arguments that his actions were justified.

Jurors reached a verdict Saturday night after four days of deliberations and an emotional three-week trial that flared around questions of race and recklessness.

The defendant, John White, raised the nation's history of racist violence in describing why he brandished a gun at a group of angry white teenagers who came to his house on Aug. 9, 2006. White ultimately shot Daniel Cicciaro, 17, in what he said was an accident but a prosecutor said was the result of poor judgment.

Saying White plans to appeal, defense lawyer Fred Brewington called the verdict "disappointing for African Americans" in the area.

"You have to survive in Suffolk County, where people can roll up on your house at 11:30 at night, threaten you, threaten your family, curse at you, call you a [N-word], and you've got to take it," he said.

But the slain teenager's mother, Joanne Cicciaro, said the case "was never about race. It was about individuals and individuals' actions."

White, 54, remains free on bail until sentencing, when he faces a prison term of five to 15 years. White was also convicted of a weapons-possession misdemeanor that carries a penalty of two to seven years in prison; it would probably run concurrently with the other sentence.

The verdict came after a 12-hour deliberation session in which jurors said they were deadlocked -- as they briefly had the day before. The judge told them about 8:15 p.m. Saturday to keep deliberating, and notice of the verdict came about 45 minutes later. Jurors declined to comment.

Outside the courtroom, the Cicciaro family's supporters chanted "Dan-O! Dan-O!" and honked their horns as they drove away. Several supporters had the teenager's nickname, "Dano Jr.," tattooed on their bodies.

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Response: Hat tip goes to Darkstar (Darkstar spouts off) for this article. On his site, DS asked the one question everyone else asked, "Why in the hell was your son on this man's property at 11 O'clock at night? Huh?!

Unfortunately, based off the report and of course I don't know all the evidence presented to make the jury be deadlocked and eventually convict the defendant for second degree manslaughter of a teen-ager. You would like to think that a man's home is his castle and he has the right to protect and defend himself and his family. But in this case, did the defendant overstep the guidelines of self defense and the use of deadly force. He may have and although it is not the same as the Joe Horn incident in Texas, where Horn called 9-1-1 and told the operator that he was going to use deadly force to stop intruders from entering and eventually burglarizing his neighbor's, key words his neighbor's! home. Horn left the safe confides of his home and went after the intruders with a shot gun, killing one.

In this case, we have a defendant, who was wakened by his son at night because he got into a confrontation with the victim and his friends at a party. The victim and his friends decided to follow the son home in hopes to getting the son into a fight. In an effort to protect his son, the father got his gun, went out into the street to confront the group of boys and fired.

Now for the brass tacks, Horn is white and fired upon black assailants. White is black and fired upon white assailants. Similarity of cases? none. Horn is a murderer. White was negligent at best for not allegedly calling the police and for going out in the street to confront the group. Oh! by the way, the victim's family should be at least embarrassed as so grieved as to why their relative and his friends kicked a black teen-ager out of a party and going to this man's house with violence in mind.

There's no winners in this matter; the case could have vindicated White, too.

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