Whitesburg KY

Man cleared of murder charge thanks judge, members of jury

Alfred “New York” White, who was cleared earlier this month in the shooting death of a friend, says he was charged with murder in Letcher County because he was an “outsider.”

“That’s the only reason why and you can’t blame the police for that,” White said during a telephone interview Tuesday morning from his home in Jonesboro, Ga.

When Walter Johnson Jr., 39, of Atlanta, was shot once in his back around 2 p.m. on March 24, 2011, White, 46, was the only person present from outside Letcher County. Jenkins residents Tom Blair, Angela Mays and David Michael Wyatt were also inside the doublewide trailer at Premier Subdivision in Jenkins when the shooting took place.

Blair, Mays and Wyatt, who were all living in the trailer at the time of the shooting, testified during White’s trial that although they didn’t see White shoot Johnson, they saw White standing near Johnson with a gun after Johnson had been shot.

White points out that during Mays’ conversations with a 911 dispatcher, Mays never gave the name of the shooter.

“She did not identify anyone,” said White. “She definitely didn’t name me.”

White said he and Johnson were seated at the kitchen table in the trailer talking about what White should buy his wife for her upcoming birthday when he heard a gunshot.

White said his elbows were rested on the table and the shot came from his blind side.

“I didn’t see who did it,” he said. “I was shocked. I said ‘What happened?’”

White said he misses Johnson, who he said was a close friend.

“I was devastated in the beginning,” he said. “I was so used to him being with me and traveling with me. I was upset about that. For the first two months, I dreamed about him every day.”

White said he and Johnson had not argued the night before or the morning of the shooting. According to White, Johnson brought crack cocaine to Letcher County to sell to residents here.

“I understood he had amounts on him, but I didn’t know how much,” said White.

White denies selling any drugs while here.

“I never had possession of it,” he said. “I had a girlfriend. I was doing that — partying and being with women.”

White said the jury returned the correct verdict on Oct. 8.

“I give my most sincere thanks and appreciation to them,” he said. “They absolutely made the right choice. I watched them as they took notes and watched what they took notes on.”

White said during the trial he was concerned that public opinion and peer pressure might factor into the jury’s decision. He described the jury as being “very attentive.”

“I want to show my appreciation toward those who rendered the decision,” said White. “There are good people everywhere. Good Christian people were involved in this. The circumstances showed that I was never supposed to get arrested.”

White is also pleased with the work done by his attorneys, Will Collins and Richard Counts.

“I think my attorneys did some good lawyering,” he said. “They jumped in with both feet. They had my welfare at hand.”

White insisted on testifying during the trial to tell his side of the story.

“I never thought one time that I would get convicted,” he said. “I maintained my innocence.”

White said Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright gave him the “best opportunity possible” for a fair trial.

“I really would like to thank Sam Wright,” he said. “He awarded me a fair trial.”

After serving 31 months in jail while awaiting trial, White is back at his house in Jonesboro, Ga.

White posted 10 percent of a $5,000 bond for a possession of a handgun by a convicted felon charge he still faces here. He declined to go into further details about the day of the shooting with the gun charge still pending.

White said he is done using drugs.

“ Yes. Absolutely,” he said. “When I was home I didn’t do them — just when I was out in Kentucky partying. Using drugs is for losers and I knew it.”

White plans to go back to college and study osteopathy.

“I will go,” said White. “This charge didn’t hurt me.”

He had previously studied physical therapy in Brooklyn, N.Y. His last job was in environmental services for biomedical pickup at Atlanta Medical Center in 2008.

He hopes to apply for admission to Georgia Tech.

“Life goes on,” said White.

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