A Middletown teenager will receive a life-in-prison sentence today for killing a fellow teen in May 2018, but how many years he will have to serve before parole consideration is up to a Butler County Common Pleas judge.
Gonnii White, 17, was convicted of murder with specifications for the use of a firearm and participating in a gang, both of which increase his possible sentence.
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The jury deliberated less than two hours on June 14 before convicting White of the shooting death of Joseph Davis, also 17.
White faces a mandatory life-in-prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for the murder and an additional mandatory three years for the gun specification, said assistant Butler County Prosecutor Brad Burress.
But the gang specification carries an additional sentence of one, two or three years in prison, which is at the discretion of Judge Noah Powers II. White could receive a maximum of 21 years to life in prison.
During the four-day trial, White was shown on social media holding a gun, but he said he never shot a weapon until May 29, 2018.
That night, White said he saw Davis reach for something in his waistband, and since he “feared” for his life, he fired one warning shot in the air. He then closed his eyes and “started shooting,” White said when took the stand in his own defense.
Davis died from multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of his death was homicide. Davis was shot in the neck, back, thigh and buttocks, according to testimony from a Montgomery County deputy coroner.
Burress noted Davis was shot four times, and when he asked White about his accuracy the first time firing a gun, White said, “Lucky.”
White admitted to the shooting, but the defense said he acted in self-defense.
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He was tried as an adult after the case was bound over to common pleas court by Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans.
White said in May 2018 there was a fight and shots were fired at Douglass Park. White said he was given a gun by a friend and he took the gun home on May 28, 2018.
The next day, White put the gun in his pocket and carried it the rest of the day, he testified.
While walking near the area of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street, White said he ran into Davis, who was riding a bike. White said he had seen Davis with a gun four or five times over the years, so when Davis reached for something, White shot, he testified.
“He seen us coming after him,” White said. “I thought he was armed.”
When questioned why he needed to shoot, White said he couldn’t “run from a bullet.” He said he never intended to shoot Davis that night.
Staff Writer Rick McCrabb contributed to this report
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