LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Benjamin Graves handed down Casey White’s sentence on Thursday, following his recent plea deal for his April 2022 escape from the Lauderdale County Detention Center.
“I feel like the most hated man in the world. I loved Vicky and I wouldn’t drag her name through the mud for anyone in this courtroom,” White told the court. “Vicky took me out because she said, ‘right was right. Wrong is wrong.’ First person to show me affection. First person to give me a hug in six years.”
“I apologize to her family because she said that’s the only thing she regretted … leaving her family,” White added before returning to his seat.
Members of Vicky White’s family were in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing.
Earlier in the hearing, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said, “On behalf of the state and the family of Vicky White, I just want to express what a tremendous impact that crime has had on this family. Vicky’s mother wanted to speak – but is too emotional.”
Connolly added that if Casey were to see any profits from book or movie deals, he shouldn’t get to keep them.
Defense attorney Mark McDaniel said it was an unusual case.
“There comes a time in your career where you don’t know how to address an issue,” McDaniel told the court. “I’ve never seen a case like this.”
McDaniel said Casey White wasn’t solely responsible for the escape.
“As good as Vicky was, as kind as she might’ve been, she had a key to get [Casey] out. He didn’t have it. She did,” McDaniel said. “We all need it every day … amazing grace.”
Turning to speak to his client, McDaniel said, “Mr. White, I hope you pray for grace. Amazing grace.”
Judge Graves in addressing White, also raised the issue of grace. “It’s not my place to give you grace. But I hope that for you. You are not the most hated man in America, but you have taken legal responsibility for this crime.”
Graves then sentenced Casey to a life sentence in the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Following Thursday’s hearing, McDaniel provided the following statement to News 19:
Like I said in the courtroom there, it’s not all on Casey. It’s a two-way street folks. She had the keys to the jail. She’s a great, sweet, kind woman.
But like I said before the judge, he didn’t have the keys, he was in a cage. She had the keys. Some people may say that she had the keys to his freedom and he had the keys to her heart.
Maybe they would, maybe that’s it, I don’t know.Mark McDaniel, Defense Attorney for Casey White
During his May 4 hearing, Connolly told News 19 that White approached him to present the plea deal, adding that White agreed to the maximum sentence for first-degree escape, life in prison, in exchange for the felony murder charge against him being dropped.
His escape from the Lauderdale County Detention Center drew national attention due to the circumstances surrounding his escape.
Video surveillance from April 29, 2022, showed Casey White and Vicky White, the Assistant Director of Corrections at the time, getting into a patrol car that they would later ditch a few miles away in a parking lot.
A manhunt by the FBI, U.S. Marshals and authorities across the nation ensued for 11 days before it ended in Evansville, Ind. As officers were closing in on the pair during a car chase, Vicky White died by suicide, according to law enforcement officials.
The felony murder charge was based on the idea that Vicky White’s death occurred while Casey White was committing a crime – escaping from jail.
Casey White’s lawyers said after he accepted the deal that they were surprised by his decision to plead guilty to first-degree escape.
The plea agreement says that as a habitual offender, he is to be sentenced to life in prison. It also orders that he have no direct or indirect contact with Vicky White’s family.
News 19 crews inside the courtroom on May 4 said Casey White acknowledged and apologized to Vicky’s mother when entering his plea. He also said, “It wasn’t supposed to go that way,” and that the pair were in love. White said they planned to start a new life together after.
Casey White is already serving a 75-year prison sentence for burglary, robbery, kidnapping and attempted murder, which stem from a 2015 standoff with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office.
However, this sentencing hearing is not the final day in court for Casey White. He has a capital murder trial set for Aug. 14 concerning the 2015 stabbing death of Connie Ridgeway in Rogersville.
Connolly told News 19 that on May 5 there has been no plea discussion in that case. Connolly said the jury pool is likely to be of similar size — 500-600 people — to what was planned for the felony murder case.
News 19’s Dallas Parker is tweeting live updates from inside the courtroom. You can follow along below.