NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brave and heartfelt words were heard in court from a woman who suffered a tragic loss and a bitter betrayal when her ex-husband murdered their daughter, one day after their divorce had been finalized.
A jury found 49-year-old Neil White guilty of suffocating his daughter, Gabrielle, in June 2017 at his townhouse in New Rochelle. The night the murder was discovered, responding officers found White with light slash wounds to his wrist and his daughter dead in her bed.
Since then he has shown no remorse and taken no responsibility, and now White has been sentenced to the maximum of 25 years to life for his crime.
On Thursday, White showed no emotion as Gabrielle’s mother, Michelle Hord, spoke at sentencing and said “my heart and soul have been ripped from my body.”
“This convicted felon, this former son, husband, uncle, father and friend, who talked about songs he imagined dancing to with our baby at her wedding, has nonchalantly and unemotionally sealed his fate,” said Hord. “He has committed the most heinous and unimaginable act, literally against his own flesh and blood — an act incomprehensible to anyone who has ever touched the softness of a child’s hand or heard a baby laugh.”
Hord said she lives in fear that her ex may someday walk free.
“There is nothing more frightening for someone with asthma than not being able to breathe,” she said. “Yet this man decided to play God and literally took my baby’s breath away.”
Judge George Fufidio told White his crime was incomprehensible before giving him the maximum sentence.
The defense said White plans to appeal.
“Neil misses his daughter. Neil loved his daughter. But he also maintains his innocence in this case,” said defense attorney Richard Ferrante.
Hord says she is finding hope even in this loss.
“I will die trying to guarantee that the 27 hours I lovingly took to bring that baby girl into the world wasn’t in vain, and that despite your best efforts, you couldn’t erase her life,” said said.
Hord, a New York TV executive, created the foundation Gabrielle’s Wings that has funded a playground and reading room in New Rochelle, and projects in Africa and South America. For more information about the foundation, see www.Gabrielleswings.org.