Alabama inmate Casey Cole White, who received national attention and more criminal exposure after a guard who helped him escape from jail took her own life, will stand trial in two separate murder cases next year.
At the time of his attempted escape earlier this year, White already had been facing capital murder charges over the 2015 stabbing death of Connie Jane Ridgeway. Lauderdale County authorities reportedly asserted that White confessed to that crime in 2020.
Earlier this year in April, White had a court appearance in that case when he disappeared with Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Director of Corrections Vicky White, who had been transporting the suspect. Though they share a surname, they are not related.
Authorities later said that the suspect and his guard had a “special relationship.”
As the pair went into the wind, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton remarked of the deputy during an April 19th press conference: “Knowing the inmate, I think she’s in danger whatever the circumstances. He was in jail for capital murder, and he had nothing to lose.”
Ultimately, Deputy White was in danger, but authorities say that the inmate’s culpability over her death was indirect.
In May, authorities closed in on the pair in the vicinity of Evansville, Indiana. Vicky White then killed herself with a “gunshot to the head,” according to the indictment. With her death, Casey White racked up another felony murder charge, which holds a criminal defendant criminally liable for any death committed during the commission of a felony. Prosecutors said that Casey White’s felony of escape in the first degree directly resulted in the guard’s death.
In a brief order released on Wednesday, Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin R. Graves laid out a road map for both trials, which will take place months apart.
Casey White’s trial for felony murder during escape in the first degree has been slated for April 17, 2023.
His capital murder trial over Ridgeway’s death will unfold that summer on June 12, 2023. Prosecutors indicated that they will not seek the death penalty on that count.
As a jury will decide both cases, prosecutors and defense attorneys must submit proposed questions for the jury questionnaire by Jan. 27, 2023.
Authorities said that they were blindsided by the deputy’s apparent role in the inmate’s escape. Vicky White had been an employee with the sheriff’s office for some 25 years, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton. The sheriff said that Vicky White had told her subordinates that she was taking Casey White for a mental health evaluation, dropping the inmate off and then seeking medical attention for herself because she felt ill.
Calling traveling alone with inmates a “strict violation” of policy, Singleton suggested that nobody questioned it because of Deputy White’s seniority. The sheriff disclosed later this year that the inmate and the deputy spoke with each other 949 times between August 2021 and late February 2022 while Casey White was incarcerated at the William Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County.
Casey White and Vicky White also “had some phone sex,” the sheriff disclosed in September.
The court will hold a status conference on Feb. 16, 2023.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]