Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
White found guilty of capital murder
by CHRIS NORWOOD The Daily Home
Feb 16, 2011
TALLADEGA — Michael Joe White will spend the rest of his life in prison.
A Talladega County jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than an hour Wednesday afternoon before finding White guilty of capital murder committed during a robbery. He was convicted of shooting Harvey “Creeper” Edison at Edison’s home on Avenue H in May 2006. Similar charges are still pending against Antoine Watts.
The Edison family had asked Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens to take the death penalty off the table in this case, so after being convicted of capital murder, the only sentence available to Circuit Judge Bo Hollingsworth will be life in prison without possibility of parole.
There will be a formal sentencing hearing March 16 at 2:30 p.m.
“Justice was served,” the victim’s brother Jarrod Edison said following the verdict.
In a statement that White gave to Talladega Police Captain Ronny Jones the afternoon of his arrest, White admitted to having shot Edison with a .375 magnum revolver, but said it was an accident that happened while they were “tussling.”
In addition to the accidental theory, the defense also raised the possibility that Watts had actually been the shooter, since the two eyewitnesses first reported seeing him with the .357 and neither had seen the actual shooting. In his closing, Giddens said that even if the evidence did indicate such a scenario, White was still complicit under Alabama law, and subject to the same penalties. The confession was explained away by the defendant being high and not really sure what had actually happened.
During the same statement, he said he and Watts had driven into the Knoxville Cemetery, behind Edison’s home, to meet some girls. Edison and Donald “Surfboard” McCain wondered what they were doing in a cemetery after midnight and shined a light on them, which White said prompted the girls to leave. He also admitted to drinking heavily and using drugs that day. He added he and Watts had come up with the robbery idea together.
McCain testified White got out of the vehicle first, went onto Edison’s porch, pointed a chrome .38 revolver at Edison’s head and ordered him to “give it up.” When McCain got up, Watts got out of the vehicle carrying a black .357, which ended up being the murder weapon. Watts backed McCain into the kitchen, where he stole a large Tupperware bowl full of change.
In the meantime, a fight had broken out between Edison and White. White said he had forcibly pulled cash out of Edison’s pants pocket.
Around this time, according to McCain, White put Edison through a railing on the porch, put his foot on his back and pointed the .38 at him again. According to state forensics experts, the .38 had a bent cylinder rod and might have been unreliable.
McCain said both White and Watts threatened to kill them, but then began arguing among themselves, probably over the .357.
McCain took advantage of the argument and fled, with someone firing at him but missing.
The first shot woke Juanita Nicole Kidd, aka Nicole Cunningham, Edison’s girlfriend, who was asleep in the trailer. She went and looked out the kitchen window, seeing the brawl. She then went back to the room and laid down on the floor, where she could hear Edison pleading for his life before hearing two gunshots.
McCain also reported hearing two gunshots a short time later.
According to testimony from two people working in the state medical examiner’s office, Edison was killed by a gunshot wound that entered his right temple. The bullet passed all the way through his brain before lodging on the left side of his neck.
A second bullet passed through Edison’s left shoulder and out of his left upper arm. This injury would not have been fatal.
The initial ballistics tests were inconclusive, but tests using more modern equipment were able to say definitively the two shots that struck Edison were fired by the .357.
Some of Edison’s blood was identified on White’s clothing, and there were no powder burns or stippling on Edison’s body that would indicate he was shot from a short distance, such as during a struggle over a gun.
White and Watts were both arrested after leading Talladega police and Talladega County Sheriff’s deputies on a high speed chase down Alabama 21. The .357, the bowl of change, some crack cocaine and some marijuana were recovered from inside the vehicle. The .38 was discarded across the street from the crime scene.
Across the hall, before Circuit Judge Julian King, another jury of 10 women and two men convicted Arthur Smith, 46, of domestic violence in the second degree. Smith was in the process of moving out of his girlfriend’s apartment in January 2010 when they had a series of arguments. The argument in question began over the phone and ended when he kicked down the apartment door and pummeled the victim in the face with a closed fist. The blows to her left eye were sufficient enough to detach her retina and leave her permanently blind in that eye.
Domestic violence in the second degree is a Class B felony in Alabama, punishable by two to 20 years in prison. It also includes a mandatory minimum of six months, during which time he cannot be pardoned or paroled or earn good time credit.
Photo : The murderer Michael Joe White