Jury listens as White trial begins in Wells County
BLUFFTON â€“ After spending most of Monday selecting a 12-person jury of six men and six women, the trial of Tyler White began in earnest Tuesday morning with the opening arguments reflecting the anticipated.
Wells County Prosecutor Michael Lautzenheiser expanded on charges of murder against White in the death of his estranged wife, Amy Meyer White on the morning of Oct. 27, 2009, at the home of his father, located at 0649 East 100 South in Wells County.
But defense attorney James Voyles, of Indianapolis, alleged that Meyer White came to the White residence that morning armed with a hand gun. When a feud erupted, Voyles charged that Meyer White "understandably" became enraged and pointed the gun at White. It was that action, alleged Voyles, that prompted White to shoot Meyer White twice, "completely in self-defense."
"Use your God-given common sense," Lautzenheiser told the jury. "Any person involved in this must remember Amy White, who is dead. We must give her a fair shake in this."
Both attorneys agreed that the marriage of White and Meyer White had been rocky, with a considerable amount of arguing over a year's time. During that time, the couple had a child, Max, but they argued constantly about him.
Lautzenheiser noted that on Oct. 17, 2009, that the boy was visiting with his father for visitation. Meyer-White was to pick him up at 9 a.m. but when she arrived, defendant, White, didn't want her to take Max for another 30 minutes.
"They argued; he wouldn't let her have Max. He played this game with her," said Lautzenheiser. "The defendant shot Amy White twice in the chest. There is no dispute about that at all."
Lautzenheiser said that it would have seemed natural for the defendant to call 911 immediately after Meyer White went down. Instead, he picked up her phone and threw it. Then he went out and shot it. Lautzenheiser said that White, who had Max with him through the entire episode, went inside and washed his "dirty hands." He then started to call 911 but didn't complete the call at the moment.
"Why was he so angry with the cell phone," said Lautzenheiser. "He didn't have any reason to be angry with the cell phone."
When EMT's and personnel from the Wells County Sheriff Department arrived, Meyer White was transported to the Bluffton Regional Medical Center.
"The doctor in the ER said that it's possible that she might have lived had she been brought in sooner," said Lautzenheiser.
"The defendant told several people that he treated her poorly, that he had been a jerk," added Lautzenheiser. "He admitted that he wasn't the best of husbands."
Lautzenheiser said that as the exchanges became more contentious, Meyer White began to record the exchanges.
"She recorded those exchanges on the cell phone that the defendant became so angry at," said Lautzenheiser. "He became so angry at that cell phone because he knew that those exchanges were on there."
Lautzenheiser referred to the fact that law enforcement officials found two guns at the scene when they arrived. While the defense argued that the second gun was the one carried by Meyer White, the prosecutor said that it is the prosecution's opinion that defendant planted the second gun.
Voyles noted that in April of 2008, Meyer White and Max had moved in with Lee Flueckiger and White had moved in with his parents, Ken and Lori White. Voyles said that when Meyer White arrived on the morning of Oct. 27, 2009, White was playing with Max in the garage.
"Tyler asked for another half hour with his son," said Voyles. "Tyler looked up and Amy was pointing the gun at him. She continued to point the gun at him. She continued to be angry, upset and disturbed.
"There is evidence that he called 911 within minutes and did exactly what 911 told him to do," continued Voyles. "When the EMT's arrived, they will tell you that there was no pulse. He didn't have a lawyer but he voluntarily sat in the office of detective James Paxton and answered every question that was asked of him."
Later, Lautzenheiser played the recording of Paxton's interview with White for those in the courtroom. The prosecutor especially noted that White had first said that he had no idea who owned the second gun, but in the process of the examination owned up to the fact that the gun belonged to his close friend, Matt Reinhard. At that point, White told Paxton that he thought that Meyer White had stolen the gun from Reinhard.
However, in later testimony, Reinhard suggested several names of individuals who could have stolen the gun, but never suggested any suspicions that Meyer White could have been one of those.
Paxton said that when he arrived at the scene, he saw two holes where Meyer White had been shot twice. He noted that there were two small black pistols and magazines lying by both weapons.
Diane Betz, a detective with the Wells County Sheriff Department, said that, upon arrival, she was instructed to pick up Max and take him back to the sheriff department. She noted that the small child was close to his stricken mother when she arrived at the scene.
Deputy Ronald Campbell testified of his work on a crime scene sketch. Campbell diagrammed where the victim was found lying and used the northwest corner of the White garage as a reference point for his work. Campbell noted that there were two spent shells left where the shooting had taken place.
In his interview with Paxton on video, White was seen telling Paxton that he shot Meyer White when she pointed a gun at him.
"I didn't want to shoot her," White told Paxton. "I told her to put it down. I got down on my knees so she wouldn't feel attacked. I shot her and she dropped.
"I didn't want her to die," White said.
White said that he shot Meyer White's cell phone. He said that after he shot it, he slammed it down.
Reinhard was the last to testify on Tuesday. Reinhard said that he had owned
two handguns. Reinhard said under oath that he knew that the gun found in White's garage on the day of the murder was his gun that had been missing for several months. He listed several individuals that he had suspected of taking the gun, including White. However, he said that he had never thought that Meyer White was a suspect in stealing the gun.
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