Long Island Man Convicted for Shooting Teenager

This is a discussion on Long Island Man Convicted for Shooting Teenager within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; This case has been unfolding for quite some time and the jury has returned a guilty verdict. I am curious to see if we can ...

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Thread: Long Island Man Convicted for Shooting Teenager

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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    Long Island Man Convicted for Shooting Teenager

    This case has been unfolding for quite some time and the jury has returned a guilty verdict. I am curious to see if we can establish where our homeowner failed.

    summary:

    Mr. White was convicted of shooting Daniel Cicciaro, 17, on Aug. 9, 2006. Daniel and several friends had left a party and showed up Mr. White’s house just after 11 p.m. to challenge his son Aaron, 19, to a fight, and had used threats, profanities and racial epithets. Mr. White awoke, 20 minutes past, no one called 911, Mr. White grabbed a Beretta pistol (illegal as it was unregistered in NY State), gave his son a shotgun, they left the house, walked 80 feet to the street, confronted the teens. Mr. White pointed his pistol at each of the teens before shooting Cacciaro in the face.

    In his defense Mr. White said he was afraid of white lynch mobs he had seen as a child...

    NY times article below or
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/nyregion/23trial.html


    My take:
    I think this ******* should go to prison. I am all for using lethal force to defend one's self, family, or home, but I don't think Mr. White was doing any of those things. More specifically, when I look at his actions: (namely: failing to call 911, waiting 20 minutes, exiting the safety of his home, confronting the teens in the street, sweeping them with his gun) I cannot see how these could be the actions of a reasonable person given the situation.

    As for race, Long Island in 2006 is not Alabama in 1920. If he would have called LE and told them there were men outside his house threatening his son, they would have come and arrested them. 20 minutes was ample time for them to show up too!

    There was a great thread on JAM (justification ability means?) that has been floating around, but I searched and cannot seem to find it for a link. There are some steps that one must take before using lethal force. The teens in the street did not pose an immediate threat to him or his son. Mr. White should have called 911, armed himself, stayed inside, and waited.

    NY State law § 35.15:

    2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person
    under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:
    (a) The actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or
    about to use deadly physical force. Even in such case, however, the
    actor may not use deadly physical force if he or she knows that with complete personal safety, to oneself and others he or she may avoid the necessity of so doing by retreating; except that the actor is under no
    duty to retreat if he or she is:
    (i) in his or her dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or
    (ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police
    officer or a peace officer at the latter's direction, acting pursuant to
    section 35.30; or
    (b) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing
    or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible criminal
    sexual act or robbery; or
    (c) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing
    or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that the use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of section 35.20.


    also here is 35.20

    3. A person in possession or control of, or licensed or privileged to
    be in, a dwelling or an occupied building, who reasonably believes that
    another person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such
    dwelling or building, may use deadly physical force upon such other
    person when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to
    prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of such
    burglary.







    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/nyregion/23trial.html


    Man Convicted for Shooting Teenager

    By COREY KILGANNON
    Published: December 23, 2007

    A Suffolk County jury on Saturday night found a black man guilty of manslaughter for shooting of an unarmed white teenager outside the man’s house last year, ending a racially charged trial.
    Skip to next paragraph
    Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times

    John White after he was convicted on Saturday night.

    The jury began deliberating on Wednesday, and on Friday indicated that it was deadlocked and racked with discord. But late Saturday night, it delivered its verdict: The man, John H. White, 54, was guilty of the second-degree manslaughter charge that prosecutors had sought, and of criminal possession of a weapon. Mr. White was allowed to remain free until sentencing, when he will face a maximum term of 5 to 15 years in prison.

    Mr. White was convicted of shooting Daniel Cicciaro, 17, point-blank in the face on Aug. 9, 2006. Daniel and several friends had left a party and showed up Mr. White’s house just after 11 p.m. to challenge his son Aaron, then 19, to a fight, and had used threats, profanities and racial epithets. Mr. White awoke and grabbed a loaded Beretta pistol he kept in the garage of his house in Miller Place, a predominantly white hamlet on Long Island.

    “We are elated and relieved and feel that Daniel has been vindicated and that justice has been served,” said Gregg Sarra, a longtime friend of the Cicciaro family and Daniel’s godfather.

    “This situation was never about race, and we hope this verdict finally dispels the notion that any racism was involved,” he said. “The defense wanted to play the race card, and there was nothing there and the jury saw through that.”

    After the verdict was delivered, the victim’s parents, Daniel and Joanne Cicciaro, hugged friends and relatives and walked out of the courtroom. Mr. Cicciaro raised his fist in the air and said, “Yeah, go Dano,” and Ms. Cicciaro said, “I love you, Daniel.”

    The trial’s racial overtones were obvious from the start, suggesting that the tension associated with the Deep South was alive in a New York suburb with good schools, high property values and privileged children.

    The courtroom gallery during the four-week trial was often clearly divided, with blacks seated on one side and whites on the other. Each family was buffered by intimidating groups: the White family by members of the Nation of Islam and the Cicciaros by burly men with shaved heads and biker clothing.

    Mr. White testified that Aaron woke him from a deep sleep the night of the shooting, yelling that that “some kids are coming here to kill me.” Mr. White said he considered the angry teenagers a “lynch mob.”

    He said their racist language recalled the hatred he saw as a child visiting the segregated Deep South and stories of his grandfather’s being chased out of Alabama in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan.

    Mr. White testified that his grandfather taught him how to shoot and bequeathed him the pistol he used.

    A lawyer for Mr. White, Frederick K. Brewington, insisted in his summation that this was a “modern-day lynch mob” and that Mr. White considered it “history replaying itself.”

    “Race has so much to do with this case, ladies and gentlemen, that it is painful,” Mr. Brewington said. He told the jury that to convict Mr. White would betray advances in civil rights.

    Mr. Brewington said the verdict “indicates a mindset that says, ‘We’re O.K. with what happened.’” He said the jury failed to take into account that “John White and his family were scared to death.”

    The lead prosecutor, James Chalifoux, said the trial did not hinge on race, but rather on the rash actions of a quick-tempered man who kept an arsenal in his house in preparation for such a situation. Mr. White admitted in court that he had not hunted in years and that the Beretta was unlicensed.

    Instead of trying to calm the unarmed teenagers, or simply locking his doors and waiting for the police, Mr. White grabbed an unlicensed pistol and stormed out of his house to confront the teenagers, Mr. Chalifoux said.

    The prosecutor acknowledged that the teenagers used epithets, but called Mr. White and his lawyers disingenuous in invoking a racial defense, noting that they missed few chances to embellish testimony with inflammatory references, and he said they used the “lynch mob” strategy to distract the jury from the charges.

    He cited trial testimony that indicated that Mr. White fanned the gun menacingly at each teenager and that Daniel did not lunge, but rather defiantly slapped the gun away, with Mr. White retraining it on him, then shooting him point-blank in the face.

    But Mr. White said the shooting happened accidentally after he began turning to retreat and Daniel lunged at the gun. He testified that he told his wife to call 911.

    On Saturday jurors asked for a rereading of the trial testimony of Mr. White, his wife, Sonia, and Aaron. The jurors did not comment after the verdict was read.

    testimony throughout the trial suggested two decent lives colliding in a suburban driveway that night because of an Internet hoax.

    Daniel was described as a hard-working, popular teenager who ran his own thriving car repair business. His parents adamantly insisted outside court that their son was not a racist, noting that Ms. Cicciaro is of Puerto Rican heritage, and that he had black friends, including Aaron White.

    Daniel apparently believed a false rumor that Aaron was responsible for a message on an Internet chat room that threatened the rape of a girl they all knew. He showed up at the Whites’ house that night to defend the girl’s honor, his parents said, and he crossed paths with Mr. White, a hard-working father of three who had spent a lifetime striving to better his family’s lot by continually moving to better neighborhoods. Mr. White had finally bought his “dream house” in Miller Place in 2005, he testified, where his son could attend a good high school. It was there that Aaron White met Daniel Cicciaro and his friends.
    "a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility" - Bill Clinton 2010.

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    Senior Moderator
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    I think his failures are quite readily apparent, and well cataloged in your post.

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    Member Array jarhead45's Avatar
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattLarson View Post
    I think his failures are quite readily apparent, and well cataloged in your post.

    Matt
    Agreed.

    His very first mistake, amongst the many, was not calling 911.

    - Janq

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    Senior Member Array Musketeer's Avatar
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    Mr. White could have handled the situation better but perhaps you should hear a little more. I live on Long Island and heard plenty about this case.

    1. He did not hand his son the shotgun. The son grabbed it and followed him out. White reported he did not know his son was with him until he turned and saw him there outside the house.

    2. White and initially the other teens present had stated that Cicciaro grabbed the gun that was pointing at him.

    3. White testified he yelled to his wife to call the police while he headed outside. His wife testified she heard him yell something but was so frightened she didn't understand what he said.

    4. Having grown up very near to where this took place I can tell you for a fact their are white pieces of trash present. I am talking about knockoffs of the "Growing up Gotti" boys and their deciding to gang up en mass to beat the tar out of a black kid is far from unbelievable.

    5. At this time there are two jurors who are reporting they were pressured to convict, laying the groundwork for the appeal.

    My 2 cents.

    Mr. White could have handled this far better than he did. At the same time he was on his property confronting a gang of white hoodlums who were reportedly coming to kill his son. Racism does not exist only in some backwaters, illiterate Alabama town. It is alive and well wherever ignorance flourishes and when a crowd of hostile, possibly drunk, white, overprivileged teens come looking to kill a lone black teen I think the concepts of intent and disparity of force have been met. The handgun was an inherited from his father. Yes it was illegal to have. At the same time there are most likely thousands of such pieces spread across NY state which relatives discovered after the passing of a loved one. Most do not know what to do with them and fear of the draconian measures NY takes with firearms leads many to just leave them hidden. There were no reports of Mr. White ever being involved in any type of altercation before this.

    I feel Mr. White handled the situation poorly and Cicciaro got what he was looking for. When a gun is pointed at you it is not smart to continue to hurl racial slurs at the black father of the kid you were coming to kill while backed up by your Guido Posse. It is even dumber to reach for the weapon.

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    Senior Member Array Musketeer's Avatar
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    Long Island is not Alabama but Bensonhurst Queens is still Long Island and the ignorance alive and well there lives in many places on Long Island.

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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musketeer View Post
    Mr. White could have handled the situation better but perhaps you should hear a little more. I live on Long Island and heard plenty about this case.

    Thanks for the extra info and correction. I too frequent Long Island and have been keeping my eye on the case.

    It's a good point that ignorance (and racism) is still alive. I only meant that today I would trust LE to show up and investigate racial threats in a way that was not the case in the segregated south.


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    "a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility" - Bill Clinton 2010.

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    Leaving the security of his own home makes his actions seem aggressive. If the youths had come to his door or hurled rocks through his windows then he could have defended himself...I think he will pay the price for showing poor judgement.
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    VIP Member Array Supertac45's Avatar
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    Pretty stupid.
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  11. #10
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Dial 911.
    Stay in the home.
    Arm yourself personally.
    Do not leave firearms (shotgun) laying around the house for teens to get hot and grab up.
    Do not go outside your front door to 'check things out' muchless confront known aggressors (!).
    Wait for the cops to arrive.
    Stay with your wife and kid(s) rather than abandon her/them and not be wearing Superman's cape.
    Don't give BGs what they are looking for!

    Even with your update Musketeer the situation and bottom line remains the same. Mr. White played the fool.
    Stepping outside his door muchless going from his stoop the distance as reported to confront the aggressors being armed, he went from being a victim to aggressor.
    Had they even come to his stoop he'd still be wrong and unwise to open his door. Call the cops and observe from a secure safe distance.
    If they had tried to breech his home then he'd have been lawful, and right.

    As to the pistol being possessed unlawfully and such there is a saying; "Ignorance is no excuse".
    He knew he lived in NY and he had a second firearm so he can't exactly plead ignorance either.

    - Janq
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    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    In New York, inheriting an old family heirloom and having a loaded shotgun behind the door are separate issues. I'm lucky to live in a gun friendly state where I can have 100 guns in each room, but I still obey my local laws. Even here, I can't chase down and shoot someone taunting my child. Sounds like the race issue might be going the other way in this case.

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    Senior Member Array jofrdo's Avatar
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    There is a great responsibility upon gun owners to know and understand the laws pertaining to self defense use of the gun. This man kept it in his garage, so it wasn't readily at hand. You just know he never went to the range and never read up on gun related topics. When he left his house, he became the aggressor and I have to agree with the guilty verdict.

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    It's those unlicensed pistols that are really to blame....
    Magazine <> clip - know the difference

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    Senior Member Array Musketeer's Avatar
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    White was certainly wrong in some of his actions and is culpable for the death of this moron. At the same time remember that at least 50% of the homes in America have a firearm but I would be only 1% are knowledgeable about the intricacies of self defense law. Yes, ignorance is no defense. At the same time the law in such matters should be "intuitive" to the majority of the populace. NY Penal Law differentiates between house and property. That some people who have never really considered such situations feel they are justified in confronting attackers on their property is not such an unbelievable prospect. On that issue I would be one for jury nullification. There are other issues on which I would vote to convict.

    I agree, the police would respond if called. My point about racism was to dispel any thoughts that it does not exist here. It is not institutionalized but it is here.

    The time this all took place in was widely contested. How long they were outside the house, how long it was from the son getting home to when the crowd showed up and other details were never firmly established. What the papers have reported are as likely correct as wrong.

    Overall it was a bad turn of events. I do not shed many tears though for the death of a piece of Guido Trash who decided to gather a mob of similar individuals and look to stomp the life out of a wrongly accused black kid who they were more than willing to believe had threatened a white girl (who lied).

    I wish Mr. White had stayed in his house. I wish he had called the police or made certain his wife did so. More than anything I wish these stupid kids had been properly raised by their parents so that White was never in the position where his bad decision cost him his freedom.

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    There's a reason that "duty to retreat" was ever conceived. Going out of your home to meet aggressors can't help one's case, if it comes to the use of lethal force.

    Now, I've never been in favor of any duty to retreat, but it speaks to the need to keep one's head, be cognizant of how others will see our actions, be aware of the inviolability of our own homes in comparison to marching out to meet a threat, and so on.

    Based on the elements presented in the article, it seems that hiking 80ft outside the home to confront folks taunting a family member quickly (and foreseeably) escalated to a lethal force situation. Escalated due to the action of the "gang" of young men? Or, escalated because the man and his son brought lethal force out to meet them? Hard to say, with the elements from the article. It would hinge on the exact timing and specifics, for me. The jury likely heard more than we know.

    In short, I'd say this guy pushed the situation outside his home and brought up the questions about his actions. Right or wrong, folks were going to question things severely, the moment he exited his home.

    What would I have done? Hard to say. From the armchair vantage point, it seems that first calling police and then hunkering down in the "safe" room would have made more sense, given the "gang", potential for them being armed, the degree of the threats made, the inviolability of the home, the subsequent ability to justify my actions, the fact my family was my first priority (not my ego, pride or anything else). But that's just me.
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