LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Casey White arrived at the Lauderdale County Courthouse early Tuesday morning ahead of a scheduled court appearance.
White, the subject of an 11-day manhunt earlier this year after escaping from a Lauderdale County jail alongside a jail official, faces two separate murder charges for cases seven years apart. Both cases will be on the docket Tuesday.
He is charged with capital murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, for the killing of Connie Ridgeway at her home in Rogersville in 2015.
He is also charged with felony murder in the death of Vicky White, who was the Assistant Director of Corrections for the Lauderdale County Detention Center, when she helped him escape on April 29.
The pair was caught 11 days later in Evansville, Ind. and Vicky White died as authorities were closing in. The coroner in Vanderburgh County, Ind. ruled she died by suicide. Under Alabama law, if someone dies during the commission of certain crimes – like first-degree escape – the defendant can be charged for that death.
Casey White is set to be arraigned Tuesday in Vicky White’s death. Along with the arraignment – the formal reading of the charges against him – several motions before the court are expected to be addressed.
Among those issues, prosecutors want to try Casey White for Vicky White’s death on Dec. 12. He is currently set to go on trial for Ridgeway’s death on that date.
He was in the Lauderdale County Detention Center last spring, awaiting his June trial in that case when he escaped.
The defense is challenging Alabama’s death penalty law. The death of Connie Ridgeway took place in 2015 before Alabama changed its law in capital murder cases to require that a jury, not a judge, issue the final sentence – death or life in prison without parole. But, because the case is grandfathered in under the old law, a judge would have the final say in the Ridgeway sentencing. The defense says that is unconstitutional and the case should be heard under the current standard.
The defense also argues Alabama’s felony murder law, allowing a defendant to be charged with murder when someone dies in the course of certain crimes, is unconstitutional. It does not require the showing that the defendant intended for that person to die, which is required under all other Alabama murder charges. The defense argues Casey White can’t be held responsible for the suicide of another person.
Casey White was in the Donaldson Correctional Facility in 2020, serving a 75-year sentence for an unrelated attempted murder crime spree, when he allegedly confessed to Ridgeway’s murder. He and Vicky White reportedly developed a relationship that eventually led to his escape. The case drew nationwide attention during the manhunt that ended in Indiana.
Prosecutors Friday filed a request asking the court to impose a gag order in the case, which would bar lawyers on both sides of the case from making any public statements outside the courtroom.
And, there will be no movement of Casey White from Donaldson to the Cullman County Jail. The defense withdrew that request last week, saying the proposed move – which had initially been approved by prosecutors and with the cooperation of the Cullman County Sheriff’s office – is no longer an option. That issue was set to be argued tomorrow.
Reports show that 30 inmates have died at Donaldson so far this year.
News 19 has crews at the courthouse and will keep you updated with the latest on the hearings.