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George White

Other Alabama Cases
Shortly before 6 p.m. on February 27, 1985, George White, vice-president of Townsend Building Supply in Enterprise, Alabama, telephoned the police department to report that he and his wife had been robbed and shot at the company warehouse.
When police arrived, they found Charlene White shot twice in the head and alive, but unconscious. She was dead within minutes. George White was shot in the arm, thigh, and abdomen.
White told police that he and his wife had been confronted by a man with a pistol wearing gloves. The man forced him to open the safe and took $1,800 and then shot them.
In July, 1985, the murder weapon, a .32-caliber pistol, was discovered, covered with dust, behind some boxes in the warehouse. The gun belonged to Oscar Lawhorn, manager of the building supply company, and he said that he discovered it missing from beside his bed a few days after the crime.
Two toboggans were found outside the warehouse.
At the time of the crime, White, 36, was having an affair with a former employee and after his wife’s death, he collected about $30,500 in life insurance proceeds.
About a year after the crime, Coffee County authorities charged White with killing his wife, shooting himself to make it appear as if they had been attacked. The motive alleged was to collect on the insurance.
Before he was charged, White was interviewed on several occasions by detectives and gave a detailed account, but one was a four hour interview given after he was released from the hospital. That interview was videotaped.
White went on trial in 1987, and the prosecution contended that the superficial wounds White suffered and the execution style shooting of his wife were evidence that he had committed the crime.

The prosecution introduced evidence that some fibers on the toboggans found outside the warehouse were “consistent with” fibers from White’s car and others were “similar” to fibers from toboggans sold in the warehouse. However, there was also evidence that the fibers from White’s car were “commonly found in the makeup of carpet.” The prosecution also introduced evidence that an animal hair recovered from one of the toboggans was “similar in color” to White’s dog’s hair. It was acknowledged, however, that a police bloodhound at the crime scene could also have been the source of the hair.

Charlene’s mother, Bess Porter, testified that on the night of the murder, she went to the Whites’ house to pick up their children, so the couple could go out to dinner. She said that George dialed a number on the telephone and hung up immediately. She said when she asked George who he had called, he said he had called his mother to tell her they were going out, but he hung up because he realized he had already told his mother they were going out. After George hung up, the phone rang immediately, and George answered. He then told Charlene that a customer needed a part and that they need to go by the warehouse on the way to dinner.

The prosecution suggested the phone call was staged. A district supervisor for the General Telephone Company testified that a telephone could be made to ring by dialing that phone’s own number and immediately hanging up. He said that this would require a “touch call line” and a touch call telephone. He testified that the Whites’ home had a touch call line, but he did not know what kind of telephone they had. He then demonstrated this ringback function using the court’s phone.

A rebuttal expert testified that the wound to George’s abdomen could have been very serious or even fatal.
During the trial, there was much discussion by the prosecution, the defense and the judge about the videotape and whether the prosecution would seek to put it before the jury.
The trial judge, Terry Butts, told the jury that the prosecution wanted to offer it into evidence and that the tape might or might not contain admissible evidence. He further said that its admission could cause a reversal, but even so the judge was willing to admit the tape if the state requested admission.
“We’ve gone so far beyond the realm of what we all know…is could absolutely put us all before the bar,” the judge said.
The tape was never offered into evidence by the prosecution. On February 12, 1987, White was convicted by a jury of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1989, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the conviction, citing a litany of improper remarks by the judge relating to the videotape.  The court said, “(w)e are convinced that the judge’s comments constituted error and we are far from convinced that without the insinuations, suggestions, and implications provided by those comments, the jury would have found that the State proved its case against the defendant.”
As White prepared for a second trial, his lawyer discovered an eyewitness who said he saw a man flee the warehouse after the shooting. Further, it was discovered that a wound on the back of White’s wife’s head—which the prosecution contended was caused by White hitting her with the gun before he shot her—was caused when the gurney carrying her to the ambulance collapsed, causing her head to strike the curb.
The case was not retried. The charges were dismissed in 1992.
Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 11/2/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1985
Age at the date of reported crime:36
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No