Continuance sought in 2012 murder trial

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Motion claims new Supreme Court ruling disallows death penalty for White

By Gina Clear

Abdullah White has been sitting in LaRue County De­tention Center since January 2012 and may have to wait longer for his capital murder trial to begin.

Attorneys for White filed a motion to postpone the trial, which is set to begin July 28, asking for at least another 120 days while his counsel prepares its defense.

The motion, prepared by attorneys Joanne Lynch and Julia Mudd from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, requests more time to investigate if White suffers from an intellectual disability. If he does, the death penalty, which the Commonwealth is pursuing in the case, would not be an option based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the motion claims.

The motion refers to Hall v. Florida, which was decided May 27. In the case, Freddie Hall, with an IQ of 71, was sentenced to death before the Supreme Court ruled individuals with an intellectual disability could not be executed because it would violate the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment clause.

Evidence was presented by Hall to the contrary and the government argued Hall’s IQ test was the determining factor on whether he has an intellectual disability. Florida’s law, like Kentucky’s, deems 70 or below as intellectually disabled.

The Supreme Court ruled the cutoff score was a violation of the Eighth Amendment and the motion argues because Kentucky’s law “mirrors” the Florida law, it could be applied in White’s case. The ruling also would “allow defendants in Kentucky to offer additional evidence in support of a claim of intellectual disability and require courts to consider such evidence,” the motion said.

The Department of Pub­lic Advocacy received the case May 6, 2013, and says in the motion filed Friday delays in death-penalty cases are not uncommon. One continuance of the jury trial already has been granted and the date was set by White’s previous counsel.

The motion will be heard at 9 a.m. June 16 in LaRue Circuit Court.

A LaRue County grand jury indicted White, 37, for the murder of Kristie L. Al­len, who was found dead inside a burglarized Buffalo residence, and two counts of tampering with physical evidence. He previously was indicted on charges of first- and second-degree burglary, receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking-automobile more than $10,000 and first-degree persistent felony offender.

Allen, 28, was found dead Dec. 30, 2011, inside a College Street home where she was house-sitting for friends. The official cause of death was asphyxia. An arrest warrant says Allen’s mother, Beverly Allen, went to the residence to check on her daughter when she saw White leave the house and get into Allen’s Toyota Camry.

Samantha J. Kolley, 21, of Elizabethtown, is accused of driving the car from the scene. She was indicted on charges of second-degree burglary and complicity, two counts of tampering with physical evidence and complicity, receiving stolen property and complicity, and first-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension.

According to indictments, the two “prepared the body of Kristie L. Allen to be moved after her death with intent to impair its verity or availability in the official proceeding.” The indictments also says the two attempted to hide Allen’s vehicle, which police recovered in Taylor County.

Kolley’s indictment also accuses her of aiding White, who spent several days on the run before being arrested Jan. 4 in Louisville, in his efforts to elude law enforcement.

White previously was convicted of murder in 1996 after he and several other teens were interrupted during a burglary attempt. According to a citation, White shot the man who caught them in the act with a stolen shotgun and later admitted to the shooting.

He served a 20-year sentence and was released in 2008, according to the Department of Corrections.

White remains lodged at the LaRue County Deten­tion Center in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond.

Kolley is out on a $25,000 unsecured bond. She is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. July 18 for a pretrial conference in LaRue Circuit Court.

Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or gclear@thenewsenterprise.com.