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Sunday, April 23, 2017

George White, AL

On February 27, 1985 in Enterprise, Alabama, George was living his little piece of the American Dream. Husband of Charlene and father of Tom and Christie, he was a successful, business-degreed executive, Sunday school teacher, little league coach and PTA president -- a yuppie in southeast Alabama. That evening everything changed.

When George, vice-president of Townsend Building Supply, Inc., and his wife, Char, stopped at his store after business hours, they thought they were doing a favor for a man who urgently needed an item for an emergency home repair. Instead, they experienced firsthand the insanity and horror of murder. A masked gunman entered the building and shot the pair repeatedly during an armed robbery. George suffered gunshot wounds to his left arm, thigh and abdomen during a struggle with the gunman. Following emergency surgery, George survived. His wife was not so lucky. Char was pronounced dead at the hospital after sustaining two gunshot wounds to the head. Tom and Christie were only twelve and five at the time of their mother's death. The nightmare had only just begun.

Sixteen months later George was charged with the murder of his wife. The State sought the death penalty, and, following a trial that was later characterized as a mockery and a sham, George was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Incarcerated for a total of two years, one hundred and three days, the conviction was overturned in 1989. George remained in legal limbo for nearly three more years. On April 10, 1992, the prosecution asked that the charge be forevermore dismissed when the proof of George's innocence finally surfaced. The trial court so ruled. The ordeal had lasted for more than seven years.

As a survivor of a violent crime, husband of a murder victim, suspect, accused, indigent defendant, convicted murderer, and innocent man exonerated, George understands fully how easy it would be to advocate revenge. However, as a family the Whites reject the death penalty as a solution to heal the wounds of their loss. George says, "I believe that society's laws must offer relief for a victim's anger and loss, and we must be afforded protection from those who would harm us; however, one cannot stop the shedding of blood by causing more blood to be shed. No amount of killing would restore Char to my family or take away the pain of losing her. What began with a horrible act of
violence should not be memorialized with an act of vengeance."
By Abe Bonowitz

Facts

Journey of Hope Cofounder
Journey of Hope Board Member 1997-2003; 2006-
Journey Ambassador
MVFR Board Member 1994-1998

Quotes

"Charlene White loved life...that should be her legacy.  What began with a horrible act of violence should not memorialized by an act of vengeance.  Hate is a continuation, not an ending.   Tom, Christie and I say "Not in our names - our hearts have bled enough."