White confesses to murder
Judge William McNeal accepted a plea agreement in Mercer County Court for William White. 3 years after, he plead guilty to the first degree murder of his wife, Melissa White on Oct. 21, 2011. In exchange for his guilty plea he got 25 years in prison. He will serve 100% of the time, receiving credit only for time spent in jail since January of this year. He will pay court costs only (due in full on July 18, 2039). Prison time will be followed by 3 years mandatory supervised release, he will not be eligible for probation. The State dismissed the other two felony charges against him, driving while revoked and threatening a public official.
If he had been convicted by trial of the original murder charge, including the fact that the murder happened while Melissa had an order of protection against him, he could have been sentenced to life in prison. For a 1st degree murder conviction alone, he could have gotten anywhere from 20-60 years, with a maximum fine of $25,000.
The audience in the courtroom was awash with emotion as Assistant State's Attorney Meeghan Lee read the facts to the court. In the days leading up to the murder, White posted incriminating Facebook posts insinuating that he was angry with Melissa in reference to his children. Then on Oct. 21 at about 7:45 p.m. the neighbor heard the dog barking uncontrollably, and shortly thereafter Melissa's two children, a 6 year old boy and a 4 year old girl found their mother laying on her back in their back yard. They went to the neighbor's house who then called 911. The cause of death - blunt-force trauma. There were fractures to her face and skull. Lee described the crowbar found across the street in a field with blood matching Melissa's. She also told the court that White confessed to his cell mate, Wes A. Fuller.
White ultimately confessed to murdering his wife in a video conference on Oct. 7 revealing that he drove over to her home in Viola and struck her several times with a crowbar - he then disposed of gloves, clothes and shoes and threw the crowbar across the street in a field.
Judge McNeal gave White the opportunity to make a statement. He faced the audience, and spoke directly to Melissa's family, "Saying I'm sorry just doesn't begin to say how sorry I am. Not only did I take her life, I took her out of you guys' lives. I stacked the deck against my kids. I've altered all of y'alls lives and futures. I just, uh... I'll live for the rest of my life wishing it was me and hoping you can know how true it is, because if I could give my life today, I would....." He ended with, "I'm truly sorry for what I've did to you and everyone else."
Attorney Nathan Nieman approached the bench to request one more statement opportunity for White. The judge acquiesced. White added, "One last thing is, uh, on Oct. 21, 2011 is when I shoulda done this and I apologize. I am truly sorry I wasn't man enough to take responsibility for this..... I shouldn't have been a coward. I apologize for the last 3 years."
This conviction has been a long time coming for Viola Police Chief Tom Mulder. He has been directly involved since the beginning, he said he was, "running radar two blocks away when it happened." He said, "it has been a frustrating case from the beginning." After the jail house confession he said, "It almost seems like a movie, doesn't it?" Chief Mulder was present with White during the videotaped confession. He described how he felt, "it was like a burden was listed off my shoulders, and everyone else's." He said even White seemed relieved.
Assistant State's Attorney Meeghan Lee said in a statement to the media, "I would like to thank Melissa's family for their patience and unwavering support. They have remained strong for over three years as this case continued to develop. With a heavy heart they sat in court and listened to the facts as they were presented to Judge McNeal. Reliving the pain of Oct. 21, 2011 and the loss of their loved one. I would like to remind our community that no one won here today. Nothing will bring back Melissa. A senseless and brutal killing took the life of a young mother, daughter, sister and friend. Pete White's confession gives closure to no one, a parent should never have to bury their child. However, we are in hopes that the confession and plea of guilty provided by Pete White will give the family some much needed Peace, and allow them to move forward in their lives without this dark cloud hanging over them." To see Lee's statement visit our website at www.aledotimesrecord.com