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Casey White, Accused Of Escaping Alabama Prison With Correction Officer, Wants Venue Change
Casey White's legal team has argued that the intense media attention around the jail escape in which he faces charges has “severely prejudiced” the potential jury pool in Lauderdale County for his unrelated murder trial.
Casey White made headlines for allegedly escaping an Alabama prison with the help of a female corrections officer, and his attorneys say the intense publicity has made it impossible for him to get a fair trial on murder charges in the county where the alleged escape took place.
Attorney Mark McDaniel, a member of White’s defense team, field a motion Friday asking for a change of venue for a capital murder trial, arguing that the media attention in his alleged escape “severely prejudiced” the potential jury pool in the county.
“If the Defendant were to have a trial in Lauderdale County, it would violate his rights to a fair trial by an impartial jury guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” stated the motion, which was obtained by AL.com.
White, who is already serving a 75-year prison sentence for a violent crime spree in 2015, is currently facing capital murder charges in the 2015 death of 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway, who was found stabbed to death in her living room.
White had been moved to the Lauderdale County Detention Center — the facility from which he allegedly escaped on April 29 with the help of his love interest and former corrections officer, Vicky White — to face court proceedings in the Ridgeway case.
Vicky White — who was not related to Casey White — was seen in surveillance footage calmly walking the inmate out of the jail and placing him in her patrol car, after telling her coworkers that she was taking him to a fictional mental health examination at the courthouse.
The pair then drove to a nearby parking lot, where Vicky White had allegedly stashed a getaway car. They were found together 11 days later in Indiana. As authorities closed in, officials said Vicky White shot herself in the head. Casey White was taken back into custody.
“Some of the largest news networks in the world covered the story on the whereabouts of Vicky White and the Defendant along with why the Defendant was in the Lauderdale County Detention Center and ‘facts’ this Honorable Court or any juror is yet to hear regarding the Defendant’s capital murder case,” his attorneys wrote in their motion to change the trial venue. “CNN, Fox News, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News and others focused reports on Florence, Alabama and the surrounding area. It was one of the most viewed stories in the country, trailing only the war in Ukraine for several days. This information has severely prejudiced the Defendant.”
The media attention led to the creation of a Facebook group about Casey White and Vicky White that has attracted 50,000 members. The group was referenced in the motion, with attorneys comparing it to the population of Lauderdale County, which has 92,870 residents.
“Nearly all of them own a television, phone, computer, tablet or combination of the four,” his attorneys wrote. “It would take a resident living in a dwelling without access to electricity or communication from the outside world for the last month not to know a significant amount of information about the Defendant, his capital murder case and his other legal matters.”
They asked that the trial be transferred to another county “to ensure that Mr. White receives a fair trial,” adding that “it is obvious that Lauderdale County has been overwhelmed with prejudice toward Mr. White that cannot be cured in any manner.”
While the trial was slated to begin on June 13, a judge pushed that date back to December after Casey White’s family helped him secure a new legal team late last month.
Oxygen.com spoke to one member of that new team, attorney Robert Tuten, last week, who said they plan to take a fresh look at the case against their client.
“We’re going to rebuild the case as the defense from the bottom up and start over like it’s a new case," Tuten said. “Whatever has been done or hasn’t been done in the past is of no consequence, we’re going to start over and build a case from the ground up.”
The new defense team also plans to represent Casey White in charges connected to the alleged escape.