A Cincinnati man received a maximum prison sentence Thursday for his part in the 2009 shooting death of Steven Denmark Jr. in Hamilton.
The courtroom was packed for the sentencing of Corey White, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter just days before his murder trial was set to begin in July. White received 13 years in prison from Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth. He faced 15 years to life if convicted of murder with a gun specification.
White gave a tearful apology to Denmark’s family at his plea hearing and again offered an apology before sentencing.
“I just apologize for that night … I am just glad to get this burden off my shoulders,” White said. He told the judge that he did have a gun the night of Dec. 14, 2009, when he and several others drove from Cincinnati to Hamilton, but he left it in the car before crawling in the window of Denmark’s house.
White said he believed the house would be empty and told the others when he opened the door for them that there was someone in the house.
But Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said evidence shows White went into the house with the gun and was one of two men who fired shots. Gmoser said White was given a plea deal because he provided them with the names of the others involved.
“I didn’t shoot nobody,” White said, noting he was young and he was a follower.
Kayla Williams, White’s finance, told the judge, “I hope you can look at him for who he is today — not who he was four years ago. Look at him for the amazing man I fell in love with.”
Friends and family members also spoke of White as a loving uncle, who read books, trained his dog and always wanted to help others.
White’s attorney, Lawrence Hawkins III, said his client was an aspiring boxer and firefighter who was a reluctant participant in the crime.
Rhonda Fleetwood, Denmark’s girlfriend who was in the house on the night of the shooting, urged the judge to give White “every second, every moment and every day of the 13 years.”
Fleetwood said all she has heard White do was blame others for his actions.
Steven Denmark Sr. turned to White and told him he had robbed his two grandchildren from knowing their father.
“Because of your actions, you have destroyed two families,” Denmark said. “No apology will ever bring my son back. I see no remorse in your actions … you continued to enjoy your life for three and half years as if nothing had happened.”
Jayson Brown, 29, of Maple Avenue in Hamilton, has also pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for his part in the shooting and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 24.
A third man, Terry P. Wardlow Jr. of Cincinnati, is facing murder and robbery charges. His trial is set for November. Wardlow is currently serving a 12-year prison term for attempted murder, two counts of aggravated robbery and having weapons under disability for crimes committed in Hamilton County, according to court records.
By Lauren Pack - Hamilton JournalNews, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 the Hamilton JournalNews (Hamilton, Ohio)
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