(AP) — The prisoner who walked out of an Alabama jail in handcuffs with a corrections official, prompting a manhunt that came to a bloody end in Indiana, was in the woman’s “care and custody” the entire time, his attorneys said in revealing their potential legal defense to an escape charge.
Lawyers for Casey White made the claim about his high-profile departure from the Lauderdale County jail in a flurry of motions filed Friday in a capital murder case in which White faces a potential death sentence if convicted. It was the defense’s first public explanation of what happened.
An attorney for White, Mark McDaniel, declined comment Monday. But the defense suggestion that jailer Vicky White, 56, was in control of Casey White, 38, as they departed the jail in Florence, Alabama, on April 29 meshes with a claim made previously by Casey White’s mother, Connie Moore.
“I doubt he even knew he was leaving when she came in there to get him,” Moore told The Associated Press in an interview last month.
The story has morphed into one with many questions and is one Sheriff Rick Singleton of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office tells “NewsNation Prime” is full of twists and turns.
“This whole scenario is complicated and complex and well thought out and well planned. This just didn’t happen in the last few weeks, it took longer to plan something of this magnitude,” Singleton said on the program Monday evening.
Casey White, who is not related to Vicky White, was serving a 75-year prison sentence for attempted murder and other crimes and awaiting trial on a murder charge when he left the jail with Vicky White, the longtime assistant corrections director at the time. Video showed her escorting White to a patrol car and leaving for a supposed mental evaluation at a courthouse.
Officials said no evaluation or hearing had been scheduled, and the two disappeared. They were eventually located in Evansville, Indiana, where the man surrendered and was arrested after Vicky White shot herself to death in the car in which they were riding.
Authorities in Alabama said it appeared the two had a “jailhouse romance.” Weeks before they fled, Vicky White sold her house for $95,000, sold her car and filed for retirement, which took effect the day she took the man out of the jail.
The defense portrayed Vicky White as being in control of events from the very start, noting she placed Casey White in the back of a sheriff’s department vehicle.
“This prompted an 11 day manhunt for Vicky White and the Defendant who remained in her care and custody,” the defense said.
Their story, however, contradicts his comments as police led Casey out of the stolen car he was in.
“He made a spontaneous statement, ‘Help my wife, she shot herself and I didn’t do it,’” said Marty Keely, a U.S. marshal from the Northern District of Alabama.
The defense arguments came in a request to move Casey White’s upcoming capital murder trial out of Lauderdale County because of publicity caused by the escape and manhunt.
While a court has not ruled on the request, a judge Friday postponed White’s trial in the 2015 death of Connie Ridgeway. Authorities say he confessed to the slaying in 2020 while in state prison, but the defense asked a judge to throw out those statements.
White won’t go on trial in the murder case any sooner than December, a judge ruled in granting an unopposed defense motion to postpone the case. A hearing on the escape case is scheduled for later this month.
© 2022 Associated Press All rights reserved.