White gets life sentence for 2017 Lansingburgh murders

Rensselaer County
james white closing arguments

James White is accused of murdering two adults and two young children in Lansingburgh in December 2017. He represented himself in his trial and gave closing arguments on Monday, December 6, 2021. (NEWS10)

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TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — James White was sentenced to life in prison at the Rensselaer County Courthouse on Wednesday for murdering two women and two children in Lansingburgh in December 2017.

White, who represented himself at trial, was disruptive and defiant, refusing to take responsibility for the murders of Brandi Mells, Shanta Myers, Shanice Myers, and Jeremiah Myers up until the very end. “Do your worst,” he told the court ahead of sentencing.

Judge Debra Young even threatened to hold him in contempt of court for interrupting as she spoke. “Mr. White, I did not interrupt you,” she said before sentencing. “You are not to interrupt me.”

At one point, “I don’t care,” came White’s reply. District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly described White as an example of evil living in our community, but said that a life sentence means closure.

The prosecution read victim impact statements from relatives. Mells’ mother said “Those two cowards”—referring to White and his former codefendant Justin Mann—”took our families away from us.”

Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Hauf teared up as he addressed the court, saying this was not an easy case to work on, and that the December 2017 murders “shook and rattled this community.”

Donnelly spoke to reporters following sentencing, and thanked prosecutors and law enforcement for their work on the case. “It is a relief to know that there is no threat that [White] can hurt anyone else in Rensselaer County ever again,” she said. 

The trial was peppered with interruptions, moments of friction, and heated exchanges, most notably, in White’s cross-examination of Mann. Young pointed out White’s consistent lack of remorse and efforts to shift blame to Mann. A literal partner in crime, Mann took a plea deal, testified against White, and was sentenced last week to 25 years to life in prison.

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