published Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

John Thomas White sentenced in dragging death

John Thomas White attends his sentencing hearing in Judge Don Poole's courtroom Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide in the dragging death of his then-girlfriend after an incident at a bar on Cummings Highway.
John Thomas White attends his sentencing hearing in Judge Don Poole's courtroom Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide in the dragging death of his then-girlfriend after an incident at a bar on Cummings Highway.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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A 39-year-old man who pleaded guilty in the dragging death of his girlfriend was ordered to a one-year rehabilitation program and probation Tuesday.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole sentenced John Thomas White to five years in prison on a split sentence for a charge of vehicular homicide in the Jan. 6, 2010, dragging death of 27-year-old Marie Oliver.

White has been in the Hamilton County Jail since his arrest nearly two years ago. His time served in jail counts toward the incarceration portion of his sentence.

Once released from jail, White must report to an alcohol rehabilitation program.

After the hearing, White's attorney, Ben McGowan, said his client has taken responsibility for what he did and the punishment was appropriate.

"This is a no-win situation for anyone; it is a terrible tragedy," McGowan said.

Assistant District Attorney Lance Pope declined comment on the outcome of the sentencing.

"[Oliver] is not going to get the chance to see her children," Pope told the jury during the trial. "She's not going to get to do that because Mr. White ran her over."

Witnesses who were at 3222 Cummings Highway the night of Oliver's death testified in earlier hearings that the couple got into an argument and Oliver followed White out of the bar.

Oliver then grabbed onto the passenger side of White's 2005 GMC pickup truck as he drove away, dragging her down Cummings Highway. She fell under the truck and was run over, witnesses said, but White continued driving.

White's father, Tommy White, testified on his son's behalf in the first part of the sentencing hearing on Oct. 18, which was postponed until Tuesday.

After the hearing, Tommy White said his family wishes they could have Oliver back and that the couple's relationship was clouded by alcohol abuse.

"They both had their problems," he said. "I can't put any more blame on her than I do my own son."

The couple have a 2-year-old daughter named Emma. White has three other children by another woman.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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holdout said...

Sure why not probation and rehabilitation? He only drug her a mile before he ran over her and left her in the middle of the street.

November 9, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.
sage1 said...

WOW......I'm speechless. Probation and Re-hab.

November 9, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

When I saw the first sentence of the story, I thought it was a mistake. Guess not. Unbelievable.

November 9, 2011 at 8:18 a.m.
McRand said...

Hey, he got five years. He's already served two. Then "Once released from jail", White must report for "a one-year rehabilitation program and probation".

Is there a reading comprehension epidemic hereabouts?

November 9, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
fedup350 said...

Our court system is broken. It is sentences like this that are one major reason that the crime rate is so high. There will surely be future victims at this mans hand.

November 9, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.
Gator said...

" the couple's relationship was clouded by alcohol abuse." Nuff said. Glad I quit drinking over 35 years ago.

November 9, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

This is unreal...5 yrs and probation...I am speechless..

November 9, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.
sage1 said...

If I remember right, Jeremy Lane got 7 years for his Involuntary Homicide (murder) by car. (while intoxicated but never tested by CPD) and it was stated he would only serve 30% of his sentence. That makes it 4.9 years. He had already served a year and a half when sentenced so that will more than likely bring it down to 3.4 years max.

This guy was sentenced to 5 years and if the above holds true in this case, his sentence will be reduced to 3.5 years minus time served in jail waiting for a trial. Potentially 18 months to 2 years and he's out maybe? Ah to Drive while Drunk again!

November 9, 2011 at 4:54 p.m.
rolando said...

Wait a minute!

He's in jail for up to 3 more years and then he goes into rehab?

He is already in rehab! What...they serve alcohol in jail these days? I know they have bars in there but wooden ones with bottles and glasses is a bit over the top.

November 9, 2011 at 7:32 p.m.
shen said...

@"There will surely be future victims at this mans hand."

Not necessarily.

Actually, the sentence was fair under the circumstances.

November 9, 2011 at 8:47 p.m.
DHall said...

@ shen Are you fully aware of the circumstances?? Go to the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts website and look at John Thomas White's Criminal History......I also wonder, do you have any children and if you would feel the same if the victim were your daughter?

November 12, 2011 at 11:45 a.m.
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