Woman pleads to setting fire that killed her son

Christina White entered an “Alford” plea in a Lebanon courtroom Thursday afternoon and will be sentenced on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree arson and endangering the welfare of a child.

White, now 28, entered the pleas two months shy of five years after her 7-month old infant son, Wayne Anderson Jr., died from burns he suffered when his blanket was set on-fire in his crib, in the family’s Iberia home.

The baby died July 31, 2007.

In an “Alford” plea, the defendant doesn’t admit committing the criminal acts charged, but admits the prosecution likely has enough evidence to prove the charges if the case went to trial. The judge then finds the defendant guilty of the charges.

Greene County Circuit Judge Michael Cordonnier was assigned as a special judge in the case this past February.

His docket entry noted a pre-sentence investigation, or Sentencing Advisory Report, was ordered in the case, so sentencing will be scheduled later, after the Probation and Parole Board staff complete their work.

In a news release, Miller County Prosecutor Matt Howard noted White could be sentenced to prison terms of 10-30 years, or life, on both the murder and arson charges, and to up to seven years for the child-endangerment charge.

Whatever length of sentence he decides, Cordonnier has the option of imposing the sentences to run together, or consecutively.

White has been in jail ever since she was arrested July 12, 2007 — the day after the fire she was charged with setting. The baby died July 31, 2007.

The pleas came during a pre-trial hearing scheduled in advance of the trial, which had been scheduled for September.

Howard’s news release said there was a plea agreement which consolidated into a single count the allegations of endangering other children who were in the home during the fire but were not injured.

The case had been moved to Lebanon from Tuscumbia, on a change of venue.

Howard had filed notice he planned to seek the death penalty in the case.

But last December, Senior Judge J. Miles Sweeney, a retired Greene County circuit judge who had been assigned to the case, ruled White could not be executed, because of her mental retardation, and laws that prohibit executions under specific conditions.

Editor's note: This version of the article replaces and updates an earlier version, clarifying that Alford pleas were entered in the case.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting

News Tribune - comments