Timothy White was sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for the murder of his great aunt Evvie Lane Vaughn. According to court documents Timothy White would steal a gun, shoot and kill his great aunt Evvie Lane Vaughn, steal her car and leave the State. Timothy White would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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judge denied a request yesterday by a death-row inmate from Forsyth County for a new trial, rejecting claims from his attorneys that his trial lawyers failed to adequately represent him.
Judge Richard L. Doughton of Forsyth Superior Court denied a motion for appropriate relief for Timothy Lionell White, who formerly lived on Tobaccoville Road.
White, 31, was sentenced to death in September 2000 in the killing of Evvie Vaughn, his great-aunt, in July 1999. White had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the Vaughn’s killing.
His death sentence concluded a 14-day sentencing phrase of the trial in which jurors heard testimony about the killing, White’s troubled childhood and his long history of mental illness and psychiatric care.
Vaughn, 73, lived next door to White and his parents on Tobaccoville Road. White stole a .22 caliber handgun from his father gun’s safe, shot Vaughn once in the heart and stomped her head until he thought she was dead, according to testimony. He then stole her car and drove to New Orleans, where he was arrested.
White is awaiting execution at Central Prison in Raleigh. At his hearing, he didn’t show any emotion when Doughton delivered his ruling. White didn’t testify yesterday or at his sentencing hearing eight years ago.
White’s attorneys — Mark Kleinschmidt, the executive director of the Fair Trial Initiative, and Lisa Miles, a staff attorney for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, presented their arguments to Doughton about why their client deserved a hearing or new trial.
Among the 13 claims that Kleinschmidt and Miles presented, Kleinschmidt said that White’s Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel was violated because his trial attorneys persuaded White to plead guilty to first-degree murder without prosecutors taking the death penalty “off the table.”
Kleinschmidt said that White’s attorneys, Mark Rabil and J. Clark Fischer, made an unreasonable decision in persuading White to plead guilty and that decision prejudiced the outcome of his sentencing hearing. The jury recommended that White should be executed rather than imprisoned for life.
Kleinschmidt said that Rabil has filed an affidavit in the case, saying that he misinterpreted state law by believing that he needed a mental-health expert to testify in a “diminished capacity” defense for White.
However, Alvin Keller, an assistant N. C. Attorney General, argued that Rabil had submitted several reasons that he didn’t use that defense.
Keller said there is no evidence that White had a psychotic episode when Vaughn was killed, that White recalled the details of the killing, and that he planned to kill Vaughn and later admitted his guilt.
“It is not ineffective assistance of counsel when a defendant pleads guilty in a capital case,” Keller said.
“White’s attorneys were trying save his life.”
As Kleinschmidt continued to argue his case, Doughton asked him, “Whose case is this? Is it the defendant’s case or the lawyers? These are good lawyers, are they not?”
“They are good lawyers,” Kleinschmidt replied.
Before his ruling, Doughton noted that the N.C. Supreme Court had upheld White’s conviction and death sentence.
After the hearing, Kleinschmidt and Miles said they were disappointed in Doughton’s ruling.
“We raised several meritorious claims that should have entitled Mr. White to a new hearing or a new trial,” Kleinschmidt said.