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Death Penalty Off the Table in Taybronne White Murder Trial

February 1, 2013

"Not guilty," Taybronne White repeated the phrase eleven times during his arraignment in a Greene County courtroom. White is facing eleven charges, including three first-degree murder charges stemming from the 2011 murders of 26-year-old Brian Daniels, 25-year-old Dustin Knighton, and 26-year-old Lisa Huang.

Investigators say White shot and killed them after a botched home invasion on Ford Avenue in Greene County in May of 2011. During his arraignment Friday, the Commonwealth's attorney Ronald Morris announced he had dropped both capital murder charges against White, citing his mental health evaluation.

"Under our constitution, courts determine what cruel and unusual punishment is," said Charlottesville attorney, Scott Goodman. "Over time, courts have decided someone who suffers from a significant enough mental illness cannot be executed."

During past court hearings, defense attorneys for White have stated their client has an IQ of 65. Goodman says it's unusual for prosecutors to opt out of challenging the mental illness claim, put forth by White's defense team.

"In this particular case, it sounds like the experts appointed by the court were so persuasive in their conclusions about the mental illness that the Commonwealth attorney himself decided he would not even make the argument to the court that this defendant would qualify for the death penalty," Goodman said.

White is facing life in prison. A trial date has been set for September 24th.

Charges against Taybronne White include:
Three counts of first-degree murder
One count of attempted robbery
One count of breaking and entering
One count of malicious wounding
One count of possession of a firearm by a felon
Four counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony

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