Soldier gets life with no parole for killing fellow GI
By Rosemarie Bernardo
A seven-member jury sentenced Spc. Jeffery White to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering Spc. Felicia LaDuke.
White showed no emotion when his sentence was announced in a courtroom yesterday at Wheeler Army Airfield. The court-martial jury also demoted White and dishonorably discharged him from the Army.
The former truck driver with the 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, remains at the Navy brig in Ford Island. His case will be sent to the service Court of Criminal Appeals.
Before he was sentenced, White took the stand and asked the jury for another chance at a productive life so he could be a father to his three children. He also apologized to the LaDuke family and his wife and other family members.
“I do have remorse and emotions,” White said. “I’m sorry for the things that happened.”
During sentence proceedings Wednesday, family members described White as a smart, responsible person who regularly sent clothes and gifts to his younger brothers and nieces and nephews in Houston.
But that was not how White was described by the prosecuting attorney.
“There was intent not only to kill her, but to make her suffer,” Capt. David Clark said.
“Did he ever say ‘I’m sorry Felicia for what I did’?” he said. “She went to Iraq and survived only to come back to Hawaii for another soldier to murder her.”
LaDuke’s family was not satisfied with White’s words.
“He didn’t say he was sorry for what he did. He showed no remorse, whatsoever,” LaDuke’s father, Steve, said.
Jury members deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before reaching a decision on his sentence, after finding him guilty of premeditated murder on Tuesday.
White and LaDuke, a motor transport operator with the 25th Transportation Company, 524th Combat Support Battalion, were involved in a custody and child support battle over their son, Elijah, who was 20 months old at the time of LaDuke’s murder.
White has two other children, a 2-year-old daughter, Jacyah, and 7-month old son, Amir, with his wife Angela.
White’s family members declined to comment.
A custody hearing for Elijah, who turns 3 in February, is scheduled to be held Monday at Family Court. LaDuke’s father said he hopes his grandson will be able to come home to Warroad, Minn., with them.
“Now, maybe he can live with the family instead of living in foster care,” LaDuke’s father said.
Family members of LaDuke and White have talked to each other about how important it is for Elijah to grow up knowing both sides of his family.
“The primary focus here is going to be Elijah and having him be the happiest, healthiest little boy he can be and have a family,” LaDuke’s stepmother, Donna LaDuke, said.
Friends and family members described LaDuke as a bubbly, generous person who enjoyed telling jokes. She also was a loving mother and someone who would lift her friends’ spirits when they were upset or sad.
LaDuke’s father continues to agonize over his daughter’s murder, saying it “was like my heart was ripped out of my chest and it can’t be replaced in any way, shape or form.”
“Sure, he’s going to prison, but I still have no daughter,” he said.