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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Man won't serve extra time for robbery

By Randall Beach
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— Derrick White learned Wednesday he won’t be serving any prison time on New Haven bank robbery conspiracy charges, but also learned that a missed court appearance earned him a 2-year sentence, to be served concurrently with a 10-year sentence for a robbery in Bridgeport.
White, 43, formerly of West Haven, was brought by marshals to Superior Court here Wednesday morning to receive the two-year sentence for failure to appear in court last May. This will be served concurrently with his 10-year sentence recently imposed in Bridgeport Superior Court.
Assistant State’s Attorney Robert J. O’Brien had earlier agreed to drop charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny, attempted assault on a police officer and interfering with an officer, stemming from his role in the robbery of the NewAlliance Bank branch in Fair Haven by Willie Cox in December 2005.
During Cox’s trial in February 2007, White testified he gave Cox a ride to the bank but that he had no idea Cox was planning a robbery. He said he thought Cox needed a ride to his grandmother’s house.
White also testified he didn’t know Cox had gone into the bank nor that Cox was carrying a gun until New Haven Police Officer David Runlett tried to stop White’s car on Quinnipiac Avenue.
According to White, Runlett pointed his gun at the car and started waving the weapon "like crazy." White said he panicked and pulled away in the car. White testified he noticed Cox too had a gun, and that Cox told him, "Go! Go!"
Shortly afterward, White added, he saw another police car blocking Middletown Avenue. He stopped his car and fled, but was soon captured. Cox was apprehended later.
O’Brien had hoped White’s testimony would persuade a jury to convict Cox on bank robbery charges. But the jurors found Cox not guilty on those charges while declaring him guilty of attempted assault on a police officer. Cox is serving an eight-year term.
O’Brien said Wednesday that authorities initially were skeptical of White’s account of the events the day of the New Haven bank robbery, "but we got the sense he might have been telling the truth."
After White was brought into the courtroom, O’Brien told Judge Richard Damiani, "He was out on parole but then he got into serious trouble in Bridgeport, which ended any hope of avoiding prison."
White is serving a 10-year sentence for robbing a Subway restaurant, according to defense attorney Thomas Ullmann.
O’Brien asked Damiani to impose the concurrent sentence of two years, which both sides had worked out in an agreement.
White declined to speak during the court session.
When Ullmann told Damiani, "Two years concurrent is fair," Damiani replied, "Fair? It’s generous."
Randall Beach can be reached at rbeach@nhregister.com or 789-5766.

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