Gov. Commutes Sentence Of L.I. Man Convicted In Shooting

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gov. David Paterson commuted the prison sentence of a black man convicted for the racially charged shooting death of a white teenager on Long Island to time served on Thursday.

The governor’s office said that John White was released after serving five months in the Mt. McGregor Facility in Saratoga.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, White said he was grateful for religion for holding him up through his time in prison and the governor for giving him the opportunity to be with his family in time for Christmas.

“He’ll never let your hand go if you take his hand and believe in God,” White said. “I feel blessed and highly favored. That’s all I have to say.”

The commutation is conditioned upon White not breaking the law, according to the governor’s office, and Paterson said the release was a heavy decision that will be met with both opposition and support.

“While the incident and Mr. White’s trial engendered much controversy and comment, and varying assessments of justice were perceived, its most common feature was heartbreak,” Paterson said. “My decision today may be an affront to some and a joy to others, but my objective is only to seek to ameliorate the profound suffering that occurred as a result of this tragic event.”

daniel cicciaro Gov. Commutes Sentence Of L.I. Man Convicted In Shooting

Daniel Cicciaro (Handout)

A jury convicted White of manslaughter in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree following a fateful incident on Aug. 9, 2006 in Miller Place, N.Y. in which 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro was killed due to a gunshot fired by White.

Cicciaro was shot outside White’s home after he and his friends allegedly threatened White’s then 19-year-old son, while shouting racial epithets.

The incident was characterized by fear, stress, panic, anger, confusion, misunderstanding and a clash of values and impulses, all in a period of less than three minutes.

Paterson said it was a tragedy that no one intended, yet everyone suffered.

“I am deeply saddened by the events of that day and am committed to working to heal the pain that it has caused to the affected families and community,” Paterson said. “The action I am taking today is one of understanding, forgiveness and hope, which I believe are the essential components of justice.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota released a statement in response, blasting Paterson’s announcement stating, “I strongly believe the Governor should have had the decency and the compassion to at least contact the victim’s family to allow them to be heard before commuting the defendant’s sentence.”

Spota said a court, upheld by an appellate court, ruled that a reasonable person wouldn’t have believed deadly force was needed that hot summer night.

In a courtroom secured by 18 police officers because of the racial tensions, White testified that he was trying to protect his family when the white teenagers turned up at his house. He claimed his pistol fired accidentally when Cicciaro lunged for it.

White’s attorney hoped that the ruling could help all involved begin the healing process.

“We want to make sure that we remember that in this situation a young man’s life was lost, and the White family will never forget that, and they continue to keep the Cicciaros in their prayers,” White’s lawyer, Fred Brewington, told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

The victim had a blood-alcohol reading above the legal limit for driving and was just 3 inches from the pistol when he was shot.

White had said his son, Aaron, woke him around 11 p.m. to say teens he had argued with at a party were headed to the Whites’ house in Miller Place, a predominantly white community on eastern Long Island.

The younger White had earlier complied with a request to leave the beer bash after he was suspected of posting online threats against a teenage girl at the party. The story of the threats turned out to be bogus, but when Cicciaro and others heard about what happened, they headed for Miller Place, making cell phone calls to Aaron White.

White found out on Wednesday afternoon that he would be released. Upon his release, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care came to his aid, defending Paterson’s decision and defending White’s actions on the day the shot was fired.

“There a lot of home owners around here that are very silent, but they believe that it was a miscarriage of justice for John White to serve one day in jail for protecting his family, protecting his wife, his son and the respect of a man’s home and castle,” said Michael Greys, of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. “We believe the governor took the right action in this case.”

The Reverend Al Sharpton, leader of the National Action Network, praised Paterson’s decision.

“We salute Gov. Paterson’s decision and hope that all families involved will move towards healing,” Sharpton said. “There are no winners in this situation. The governor in my judgment showed great courage and fairness.”

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Jennifer McLogan
  • Lee West

    Not good enough! White should be pardoned. This sentence commuting is a cop out. However, it is better than him serving that unjust sentence. We as a society need to make up our minds as it relates to what we want from our men. He protects his family from thugs and he has his life practically ruined? I say justice was done. Had Danny’s parents bothered to raise him right he’d be alive today.

  • Karen

    The arrogance of this entire tragedy makes me sick to the stomach. To literally be in the presence of those and watch them laugh about this situation is disgusting. Be very careful about who you support – in the end you all will be amazed about this matter – Purely Surprised!

    Please refrain from the use of GOD – not proper at all for this story…-believe me!

  • Bily Thompson

    You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by searching online for “Wise Health Insurance” If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

  • injun93

    I mean a black killing anyone happens all the time.

  • injun93

    Just another black killing a white person. Happens all the time!

    • Alice betts

      Yea right, whites have been killing blacks for decades with no punishment! Try waking up in the middle of the night with some hooded cowards holding flamed sticks outside you house, burning crosses in your yard, hanging you just because of your race and ask yourself what would you have done if you were Mr. White….get over it and pray for each of these families. For some reason, some whites feel that they have a right to go around hurting others and its suppose to be ok, wrong answer! Teach children the right way, they should have carried their BUTTS home vs being at someone house yelling and acting a fool!

  • backlash

    That was very “BLACK” of the Govenor.

    • Alice Betts

      Whatever! RACIST!

  • DrJ

    Justice was done today. What a price to pay by all parties involved in this nonsense. God blesses His creation with no excuses for racism or hatred. Thank God, and my prayers for His blesssings for all those who care about this.

    • jus

      Justice was done? He shot that boy–and he was a boy. He was convicted by jury of manslaughter. THEY WEREN’T IN HIS HOUSE, HE WENT OUTSIDE AND CONFRONTED THEM WITH A GUN and that’s why he was convicted. Lets face it. His sentence was 1-4 years, not 25-life and he deserved it FOR KILLING A 17 YEAR OLD BOY. Forget race, he got away with murder.

      • Think smart...

        @jus.. you are a moron..If there were several youngs thugs white/balck at your doorstep I’m quite sure you would call for mommy or daddy and hopefully with the right God giving sense, your parents would react in the way Mr. White did.
        Forget about the color, put principal in front…..

      • rosairo

        He was no “boy”. Do you know how many 17 year olds are sitting in jail because they committed grown man crimes? At 17 you KNOW right from wrong regardless of how stupid you may be, and for him to think he could get away with threatening a man in his own house with a mob of goons is stupid.

        We pay for our own decisions in life. Should he have died? No. But is it anyone’s fault but his own? Nope.

  • Let's Thug People and Cry Victim

    The Cicciaro’s are real life grease balls. White should have done us all a favor and shot them all.

    • jus

      I bet you wouldn’t say that to their faces. What a cowardly, cruel post at Christmastime. May you reap what you sow.

  • NYC

    I’m happy for Mr. White. The Cicciaro’s should be ashamed for causing all this pain to themselves as well as to the Whites. Their son clearly had no training or behavior. I hope that Mr. White and his family are able to move on with their lives.

    • Jus

      You should be ashamed of yourself. I don’t blame Mr. White. I probably would have done the same thing, but to call out a family, who I don’t know and you don’t know, for the stupid choice of their 17 year old son is heartless, gutless and spineless. If you consider yourself a Christian, you clearly don’t have any appreciation of the spirit of the season. I live in Queens, by the way, if you want to sort this out man to man.

      • NYC

        Oh shut your fat face! You reap what you sow! Their son is a product of their environment. The televised behavior of the father alone says a lot about the entire family!

        You’re such a loser….lol…sort this out man to man…..get a life! SAD!

  • Jets Fan

    Obviously Patterson must be blind and could not avoid stepping into a racial minefield and in the process perpetuating more racism. Regardless, the kid did, it did not deserve to be executed. The old man did not call the police until after he took the law into his own hands. It is doubtful a white man would receive that same commutation of sentence or leniency.

  • chooch

    As an Italian, that kid and his friends were a disgrace to their heritage and put that poor man in a position to have to defend his family on his own property. White trash family showed absolutely no remorse for their dead son and his friends’ actions. What a great Xmas gift Gov. Paterson.


    TOM, I think you are the only voice of fairness and Reason. I share the same race as Mr. John White, and I think there is enough blame to go around. Parents should teach their children love and tolerance, while the older generation to let go of the old baggage of racism in whatever form they experienced it in the past and replace it with love, peace and hope for the future. We all should look at this episode in time as a teachable moment and learn from it so that we are not doomed to repeat it over and over! LOVE, PEACE AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!!!!

  • Bob Fowler

    oh yeah, one more thing…
    Can CBS and the rest of the media at large please stop asking that buffoon for his opinion? Even if he volunteers it, it is the media that keep giving this clown a sense of importance that nobody other than the media and his circle of friends cares about. I won’t mention his name, but he had the final say in the article.

  • Jimmy

    As a White conservative New Yorker Mr. Patterson did the right thing. Show up at someones doorstep in a threatening way and you get shot. Merry Christmas Mr. White you did the right thing in protecting your family.

  • Bob Fowler

    What is the sense of having a judicial system if, upon a personal desire, anyone can, without cause, overturn the law? All of the race arguments being made are for the trial. He was convicted and sentenced by a legal system that we are supposed to adhere to. How and why is he not held to the same standard of justice as all the rest of those in prison who must serve their sentences?

    • Alice Betts

      BOB, to answer your question, he should have never been sentenced in the first place! If he had been white, this would not be an issue, you all would have been rallying around him, but because he is black and kill a non black, you are now angry! Well, I am sure that Mr. White did not plan to kill this young man, but throughout history whites have been killing blacks and unjustified, ok. I remember the era where blacks would be asleep in their beds only to be awaken in the middle of the morning by some racist whites dragging someone out of bed to hang/kill them for no reason, other than they are black! Think of 14 yr old Emmett Till who was murdered by beating him to death with a tire iron, drowned, hanged etc. ,just because he supposedly whistled at a white woman, so this has been happening to blacks for decades, and there was no justice.

  • White Male

    If you want to bring color into it, you can throw that at the punks that showed up on this mans doorstep threatening his family late at night. I listened to his father screaming at the sentence being lowered in the past. He should have had such vigor in teaching his kids lessons in both alcohol and invading another mans property and family. It’s a shame that man serve one day over this.

  • Long Island

    As a life long Long Islander, TOM said it best…in fact, perfectly.

  • Tom

    There is enough blame to go around in this tragic case. As a white italian male who was born and raised in Long Island I know all to well the racial attitudes and “Jersey Shore”-like mentality of many neighborhoods in Long Island. Instead of speculating on what could have happened if racial roles were reversed let’s stick to the facts. These underage drunken idiots should never have gone to that mans house to attempt to exact some type of street justice (based on NO real facts of their own). The home owner should have held up in the house and had the police come asap to avert a possible tragedy like this. This should be a lesson to all to get a grip on themselves and let the police do the law enforcement – especially in Suffolk where they are the highest paid in the country. Also for teens to smarten up and control their behavior. ( and maybe the parents to take an active role in that).

  • riri

    If the colors were reversed there would be no pardon.

    Mr gov you really played the race card on this one.

    • rosairo

      if colours were reversed there wouldn’t have been any trial or sentencing either.

      But thanks for putting the “race card” in the deck in the first place.

  • The Truth

    Why does the Gov or Pres. have the power to commute any sentence. It underminds the system. America is so corrupt that we have all this BS. Mr White could have shot into the air? Anybody who has ever heard gunshots on the street knows you split. Where is Rev Al now? Not so Rev is he unless there is money or the front page. Sad either way.

    • JC

      You write without knowing the whole story, he testified the gun went off accidentally as the victim tried to grab it from him so maybe you don’t know what happened and should shut up.

  • Mrs. I. Understand

    To sit and read all these comments just lets me know futher that racism is alive and just as hateful as it was many years ago. The stench of ignorance is stiffling.
    If it were your family Black or White and the head of house felt that you were in danger,reagardless of race it is his duty to protect.
    Get over it, move on.

  • Paul

    Jack Benson, if the races of the perpetrator and the victim were reversed, the perpetrator would never have been convicted of this sad incident. That’s the racial hypocrisy.

  • Glad to see Patterson go!

    If John White felt that he and his family were being threatened, he should have stayed in his house and called the police. What does the Cicciaro family get out of this? Typical of Patterson to make another bad decision.

  • JD

    I’m glad he’s being released. If those punks didn’t go to his house to terrorize them it wouldn’t have happened. He defended his family. I felt bad for him when they arrested and sentenced him. I felt that the terror had never ended for him and his family.
    Where there is love there is peace; where there is peace there is life.

  • It's fair

    I am the opposite race of Mr. White and I’m quite sure that if the roles were reversed and the deceased was black and Mr. White was black there would be a feeling of vindication. A sense of happiness, to know that their loved one who was protecting their family would have done the same or maybe more.
    Continue to be a productive citizen, Mr. White.

  • cgg

    you are an idiot…you probably were not even in nyc when this happened or you were just too high to have paid attention to the news…

    • bb

      cgg it happened on long island idiot

    • cgg…so spiteful…just a typo…the idiot is you for overlooking vixter…

  • Jack Benson

    If the color of the perpetrator and victim were reversed, would Paterson have commuted the sentence? NEVER! What racist hypocrisy!

    • Michael H.

      If the colors were reversed Mr. White would never have done a minute of jail time. Sad, but true.

    • T

      I TOTALLY agree with you!!!! If the races were reversed, it would be an entirely different story!

  • cgg

    excellent…daniel cicciaro did not need to die but john white did not deserve to go to prison either…he was protecting his family and home…if it had been a black kid threatening a white kid this would have never been a story in the first place…sad to say but true…i have lived in new york for a very long time and the double standard needs to come to an abrupt halt…

  • Vin

    A bunch of hoods descended upon this man’s house all on the words of some female punk. He did enough time. Next time this dead kid’s friends should just back the “F” off instead of terrorizing people. Punks!!!

  • Ray Cyst

    Holy Mackel!

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