The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 31, 2013

David Clayton White receives life in prison

LEWISBURG — In a pre-sentencing statement punctuated by an obscene invitation, a defiant David Clayton White placed blame for his legal woes on his defense attorney, the State Police, the prosecutor and the judge who presided over his arson trial.

“Nineteen months ago, I was an innocent man,” the 48-year-old White proclaimed during his Tuesday sentencing hearing in Greenbrier Circuit Court. “Now, I’ve lost everything.”

White was convicted in February of 21 arson, retaliation and conspiracy crimes in connection with a December 2011 fire that destroyed numerous vehicles in the parking lot of the State Police detachment in Rainelle.

A separate jury, impaneled three months after his trial, identified White as a habitual criminal, effectively requiring Greenbrier Circuit Court Judge Joseph C. Pomponio Jr. to sentence the man to life in prison.

Asking the judge to hand down the life sentence, plus an additional 45 to 129 years of imprisonment, Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via acknowledged during Tuesday morning’s hearing, “It is an extraordinary sentence ... the maximum provided by law.”

But, he noted, “The acts ... merit that type of sentence.”

White demanded the death penalty instead of life in prison, saying the two amounted to the same thing.

Using crude language, White also asked court officials and law enforcement officers involved in his case to line up and kiss his posterior, even repeating the invitation when a dismayed Pomponio inquired, “What did you say?”

Citing White’s “substantial” criminal record — which includes the federal offenses of racketeering and being a felon in possession of a firearm — the judge sentenced him to the prison terms Via had recommended.

“We don’t have the death penalty in the state of West Virginia, so this court can only sentence you to life,” Pomponio told White.

After another brief outburst by the defendant, Pomponio added, “I’m supposed to follow the law, and that’s what I’m doing.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, defense attorney Douglas Arbuckle stated his intention to appeal his client’s conviction.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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