Fresno man found guilty of halfway house murder

May 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Fresno man accused of killing another resident at a halfway house nearly six years ago has been found guilty of murder.

Jerry White didn't blink or show any expression as he learned at least the next 15 years he will be without freedom. But, for the family of Christopher Westrick, the decision marked the end of a painful and long journey, of mental health status hearings and then a trial.

Westrick's brother, Alan Jacobsen said, "Just relieved knowing that as senseless as it was, we now have some closure."

Police say White and Westrick got into a fight in the kitchen at the home where they lived near Palm and Shields. Witnesses said the victim didn't want White cooking potatoes in oil because he thought it might start a fire. Westrick was stabbed to death with a steak knife.

Tuesday White's attorney said her client has schizophrenia and talks about demons, space aliens and even believes he's been reincarnated.

Attorney Jane Boulger said, "He sat the entire trial staring straight ahead, he is incapable of understanding what's happening around him, so he just sits there and stares. I have no idea what's going through his mind."

The victim's family members believe White is a danger to society and should never be set free. His older brother says although Chris had some mental health issues, he was a good person and didn't deserve this attack.

"Overall, he was a good kid," said Jacobsen. "We have a big age difference but you know, I always still considered him my little brother and I miss him."

The next phase of the trial will be when jurors decide whether White is sane and should be sent to a mental facility to serve his term or a state prison.

The victim's family says they just want him away from anyone he could hurt for the rest of his life.


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