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Death-penalty defendant now gets life

Derrick White was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for the 2010 shooting death of Abdul Taylor.

Derrick White
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DERRICK WHITE, the only defendant sentenced to death by a Philadelphia jury in 2012, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

White, 24, was expected to face a new penalty-phase hearing this week, but a judge ruled that because of a "technical defect in a legal filing," prosecutors could not seek the death penalty against White, White's new defense attorney, Gary Server, said yesterday.

White was 20 years old on May 6, 2010, when he fatally shot Abdul Taylor, 33, because White allegedly wanted to prevent him from testifying as a prosecution witness in another murder case.

In 2012, a jury sentenced White to death after convicting him of first-degree murder following a trial before Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Engel Temin.

A prior defense attorney appealed to the state Supreme Court. It sent the case back to the lower court to decide whether White should get a new penalty hearing because his age was not brought up as a mitigating factor during his penalty hearing. Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott, assigned the case after Temin retired, determined White should get a new hearing.

Server was to argue this week before McDermott and a jury that White should be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

But on Friday, Server said yesterday, the judge noticed a "technical defect" in the commonwealth's notice of aggravating circumstance, when it originally sought the death penalty. The notice said White killed a witness in White's own murder case.

So, on Monday, before jury selection was to start in the new penalty-phase hearing, McDermott sentenced White to life in prison without parole.