By Tina Alvey
After deliberating less than an hour, a Greenbrier County jury found a Meadow Bridge man guilty of arson and related crimes in connection with the 2011 torching of vehicles in a State Police parking lot at Rainelle.
David Clayton White, 48, faces between 47 and 105 years in prison when he is sentenced March 6 for his part in the fiery destruction of eight vehicles at the Rainelle detachment of West Virginia State Police.
The nine-woman, three-man jury convicted White on all 21 counts of an indictment that charged him with second and third degree arson, intimidation of and retaliation against public officers and various conspiracy crimes.
Upon hearing the verdict, Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via immediately advised the court that he intends to file an information later this week charging White as a habitual offender. That charge carries a life sentence.
“We’re very pleased,” Via later said of the verdict, noting, “We’re always pleased when the jury listens attentively and delivers a just verdict.”
He added, “Each trial has its own little bumps, but we presented the evidence we intended to present. We dispense justice; we present the evidence, and it’s up to the jury to render a verdict. We certainly accept this one.”
Via said he expects trials for two of White’s co-defendants — Joshua Redden, 26, and Jennifer White, 32, both of Meadow Bridge — to be placed on the docket soon.
“I don’t know what to expect about the disposition of those two cases — whether there are other resolutions possible,” Via said. “Neither has reached a plea bargain at this time.”
Jennifer White is David White’s wife. Testimony in her husband’s trial alluded to Jennifer White’s possible role as a lookout during the Dec. 15, 2011, parking lot arson.
Redden took the stand Tuesday as a defense witness, but then invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination, refusing to answer questions posed by defense attorney Douglas Arbuckle.
Two other co-defendants named in the arson indictments have already entered plea agreements. Both Ray L. Goff, 29, of Meadow Bridge and Nicholas White, 23, of Danese testified against David White as part of their agreement, which also resulted in a reduction in the number of charges of which each now stands convicted.
The two-day trial took almost a week to complete, thanks to wintry weather. Most of the state’s witnesses testified last Wednesday, with Goff awaiting cross-examination when court recessed late that afternoon. He had an unexpectedly long wait, as snow and bitter cold temperatures forced the closure of Greenbrier County schools — and thus, in keeping with the court’s policy, the postponement of the trial’s second day until Tuesday.
Following Goff’s cross-examination, during which Arbuckle attacked the man’s credibility, Nicholas White took the stand.
Nicholas White testified that on the night of Dec. 14, 2011, his great-uncle David White picked him up from home and said, “We’re going to do a job.”
It was on the road to Rainelle that he discovered what that “job” would entail, Nicholas White said, describing how he, his great-uncle, Redden and Goff parked in a nearby parking lot at around midnight, ran to the State Police lot and “busted windows out of cars and burned ‘em.”
Earlier witnesses had postulated a motive for the crimes: David White’s brother Floyd White was under State Police investigation for allegedly operating a car theft ring. Six of the vehicles destroyed in the early morning conflagration Dec. 15 at the State Police lot had been confiscated from Floyd White’s property, with most later identified as having been stolen.
Nicholas White’s testimony fed into that theory, as he said David White exclaimed after the vehicles had been set ablaze, “That’s what they get for (expletive) with my brother.”
David White took the stand in his own defense at the trial’s conclusion Tuesday, responding, “I have no idea,” to his attorney’s question about why Nicholas White would claim the older man was involved in the arson.
David White denied any involvement in either the planning or the execution of the crimes. He also denied having a close relationship with his brother Floyd, dismissing the state’s assertion that he masterminded the arson as retaliation for Floyd White’s legal woes.
“It was none of my business,” David White testified. “I’ve got enough problems of my own.”
Floyd J. White was indicted in Fayette County in September on charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, 22 counts of concealing stolen property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
A charge of conspiracy to commit a felony brought against him in Greenbrier County after the arson was dismissed in December.
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