Soldier faces life in prison for murder
The Schofield driver is found guilty of killing the mother of his child
By Rosemarie Bernardo
A court-martial jury found Spc. Jeffery White guilty yesterday of premeditated murder of Spc. Felicia LaDuke on Oct. 7, 2005.
White, a truck driver with the 325th Brigade Support Battalion, faces life in prison or life with eligibility of parole in 20 years. He was to be sentenced at Wheeler Army Airfield at 1 p.m. today.
LaDuke, a motor transport operator with the 25th Transportation Company, 524th Combat Support Battalion, and White were involved in a custody battle over their son, Elijah. The toddler was 20 months old when LaDuke was murdered. White has another child with his wife, Angela.
Jury members deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours before they reached a verdict.
“He had a wife, a new life. She didn’t fit in anymore because she was a liability, a problem,” Capt. Robert McGovern, an attorney who represented the U.S. government, said during closing arguments at the court-martial.
LaDuke wanted White to “man up” to his responsibilities, McGovern said. White was fed up with her, he said.
White, he said, did not act in a fit of rage, but had talked with friends about killing LaDuke.
In August 2005, White told a friend, “I should just kill her, dump her body so I don’t have to pay child support.”
“He said it to many people, not idle chatter, (but) a man expressing his anger,” McGovern said.
On the night of Oct. 7, 2005, White was playing pool with a friend and stewing over LaDuke. He had changed his plans with his wife and called LaDuke about 10 p.m., asking to meet her.
The two, according to court testimony, drove to Kaena Point, where White beat her, strangled her and finally drove her car over her body three times to make sure she was dead.
McGovern said White attempted to cover evidence of his crime, showing it was a premeditated act.
This shows that someone is smart and was thinking — “not someone in rage,” McGovern said.
The courtroom gallery was packed with military personnel and family members of LaDuke and White during closing arguments. Family members declined comment.
White’s attorney, Maj. John Hyatt, said that White brought LaDuke to Kaena Point to have sex, not to kill her.
While they were at Kaena Point, something prompted White to derail his plans, Hyatt said.
Prior to LaDuke’s death, Hyatt told jury members, there were no threats against LaDuke from White. Of the statements he made to friends on how he wanted to harm LaDuke, Hyatt said, “People use phrases. People use figures of speech.”
“Nobody thought there was a potential of danger that LaDuke would get hurt,” Hyatt said.
“He never threatened her. There were plenty of opportunities of threats,” Hyatt said.
Hyatt argued that LaDuke’s death was not a result of premeditated murder because White did not consider how he would leave the scene.
Hyatt also argued that White did not have a weapon or a plan to leave the area.
After LaDuke’s murder, White told the first person he ran into that he killed someone. “There is no rational follow-through, no mental preparedness,” he said.