An Alabama inmate who escaped from jail and avoided capture for nearly two weeks last spring was sentenced Thursday to spend the rest of his life in prison, the maximum sentence for first-degree escape.
The inmate, Casey White, escaped from Lauderdale County Jail in Florence, Alabama, in May 2022. He was aided by a corrections officer, Vicky White, who was of no relation to him. After leaving the jail for a courthouse appointment that was later revealed to be a ruse, the pair were on the run for 11 days, setting off a nationwide search that ended with his arrest and her death after a police chase in Indiana.
At a courthouse in Lauderdale County on Thursday, the local CBS affiliate station reported, Casey White, 39, said he felt like “the most hated man in the world” and that he had loved Vicky White, whose family members attended the sentencing hearing and to whom he apologized.
“Vicky took me out because she said, ‘Right was right. Wrong is wrong.’ First person to show me affection. First person to give me a hug in six years,” he said. Vicky White, 56, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the police pursuit ended in a car crash. Casey White surrendered.
At the time, Sheriff Rick Singleton of Lauderdale County said that he believed the two had been in a “romantic relationship” for at least two years. Lawyers for Casey White confirmed the relationship.
“It’s our view that he’s just a master manipulator,” Chris Connolly, the Lauderdale County district attorney, said of White.
Connolly added that Vicky White’s mother had intended to speak in court on Thursday but was ultimately too emotional to do so.
Under Alabama law, a person may be charged with felony murder if they cause someone’s death while committing a felony such as arson, burglary or escape. But last month, in a move that surprised both the prosecution and his own defense team, Casey White pleaded guilty to a first-degree escape charge in exchange for the state dropping a felony murder charge in the death of Vicky White.
Mark McDaniel, an attorney for Casey White, said in a phone interview that he had “never had a case that was like this” in his 46 years of practicing law and called it “very unusual.” He said White had not wanted anything derogatory to be said in court about Vicky White.
“I did want to remind everybody,” McDaniel said, “she did have the keys.” He added: “Everybody was talking about how bad Casey is. Well, he was in the cage, and she had the keys.”
At the time of his escape, White was awaiting trial in the fatal stabbing of a woman in 2015, according to the U.S. Marshals Service; he is set to be tried in August. He had already been serving a 75-year sentence at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County, Alabama, for previous convictions, including two carjackings, multiple shootings and kidnapping.
The life sentence for first-degree escape will be served concurrently with White’s 75-year sentence, McDaniel explained, “so he would be conceivably sometime in his life be eligible for parole.”
Connolly noted that White will not be eligible for parole until 2081 and that the judge ordered that White or any person acting on his behalf would have to disclose “any money that they may receive based on his commission of this crime,” in the event that any books or films stem from the national attention the case received.
“We would file a civil condemnation lawsuit and ask the court to seize that money,” he said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.