The statement, made during a hearing to determine if 15-year-old Thomas Gregory White's bond should be lowered or if he should be placed under house arrest, was referring to the fact that White's assault rifle jammed when he was allegedly trying to shoot Memorial Principal Steve Gilbreth on Oct. 9, 2006. White, who was 13 and a seventh grader at Memorial at the time, has been locked up since that day:
(Public defender James) Egan said his client has been kept isolated at the jail because of his age, receives no educational instruction and gets to talk to his mother just once a week for 15 minutes through a glass partition.
“I think we’re now entering a phase where it’s becoming cruel and unusual punishment,” Egan told Circuit Judge David Mouton.
The Jasper County prosecutor’s office opposed the defense motions seeking house arrest or a bond reduction. Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Fisher said the alleged crimes were serious and posed a threat to the community.
“But for a gun malfunction, we’d be sitting here in a murder case,” she said. She said the teen has been certified as an adult and should be treated as an adult and not released on bond “because of the threat he poses.”
Egan said the thought that his client might run away from home, access a weapon and commit another crime was “not a plausible scenario.”
The judge pointed out that, with White’s father serving time on weapons convictions
related to his son’s alleged offenses, the defendant would have one less parent at home to keep watch on him than he did when the alleged incidents took place.