Jail officers led the defendant into Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell' courtroom, and removed his handcuffs. Wearing the red felony pajamas that denote the highest-security risk prisoners in the King County Jail, Scott Brian White is still scrawny, but considerably less scruffy than when he was busted in 2007 with his mullet colored with purple Kool-Aid.
Making eye contact with no one, he stiffly held his arms and hands straight down like a recalcitrant 5-year-old, looking straight ahead at the judge. (the if-looks-could-kill crowd in the gallery behind him were drilling his skinny backside with a fusillade of high-caliber eye-fire.
(photo: Mike lives again on Marian Bogni's left, naturally, arm)
It was tense in the small courtroom. Nearly all the seats were taken by Webb's friends, fans and family; a smattering of curiosity seekers, and a squadron of media crowding the jury box with video cams and notebooks.
The judge said he's responsible for one of the two most violent slayings he's seen in his many years on the bench.
(photo: White and attorney, Julie Lawry)
The core of the friends and family group were Mike Webb's siblings, Marian Bogni, and Wayne Webb. Seated around them on the oak benches were Jeremy Grater, Mike's KIRO producer, (now KOMO afternoon drive news editor). Bob Vesely, Mike's old friend and webmaster; Caleb Hayes, the deadly earnest, anti-Bush high school kid befriended by Webb at the age of 12; and Jane Bengston, Mike's friend and surrogate mom. There was no one from KIRO.
Bengston told the court that after bludgeoning Webb, White had made a breezy to-do list: wash the walls, clean the basement, and "be nice to the people who survived." (As workers cleaned out Mike's rented house after the murder investigation, Bengston rescued bags and bags of Webb's old clothes, and took them home, saving them from the ignominy of the dumpster). (photo: Jane Bengston)
"[Mike Webb] was like Mother Theresa, he really was," said Hayes. The state, he said, had let him down by not finding Mike's body for several months causing him to fear the murderer might come after him, too. "I just hope the state won't fail me again and let an axe murderer out in a few years."
(photo: hagiographer Caleb Hayes gets emotional)
Marian Bogni and Wayne Webb have been serving as family spokesfolks during these ugly 2 years and 3 months since the grubby murder. The Seattle Police made some colossal mistakes; the prosecution came up looking lame which added extreme frustration to their intense pain."I don't have an accurate vocabulary to describe how I feel," Wayne told the court.
Living in California, and being geographically far from the legalities has added to their feelings of helplessness. Wayne Webb told Ramsdell that "nobody deserves to die like that. Mike surely didn't deserve to die at all, let alone at the hands of an ax murderer."
(photo: Marian Bogni)
Lawry, seeking a lower than standard range sentence for White, argued that he was sevAnd has taken responsibility for this case. And the family has been reconciled to the fact that Mike Webb had some responsibility as well."
She argued that Mike Webb himself, as a progressive,and someone who suffered mental illness, would probably support leniency for Scott White. (if he hadn't been murdered, inconveniently, by him).
Over the past 2 years, while determining White's sanity, Lawry developed a defense file in case White ever went to trial. After his guilty plea, it became the "mitigation package," containing the rationale (if that's the word) that White had for brutally murdering Webb.
(photo: Wayne Webb)
The judge called the file "hefty," and took the prosecution to task for its lack of countering evidence, particularly when they were asking for a sentence in the low end of the sentencing range. Why were they doing that? he asked and why wasn't this "substantial" file being rebutted by the state?
The file, which will become public, claims Webb had culpability in his own murder: White claims he killed Webb to avoid Webb's sexual entreaties; and that Webb was not clean and sober and was trying to make the younger man dependent on him by supplying prescription drugs.
But Ramsdell, having read the file, said there was no credible evidence that Webb was abusing illegal or prescription drugs, despite the prosecutor's acknowledgment that Webb's computer showed he'd made prescription-drug purchases on the Internet in the name of a long deceased lover.
The judge found White's claim he was repeatedly pressured into sex not believable. White later admitted to investigators that after the murder that he had consensual sex with at least 2 other men- one in exchange for cash, the other for heroin.
White was given the opportunity to speak. Reading a prepared statement, he apologized and said that he's "filled with so much pain and sorrow." He wrote a more personal letter to the Webb family which was given to Raz by the judge to be passed along to the Webbs if "it isn't inappropriate, and they care to read it"
In a we-are-the-ones-we've-been-waiting-for moment, White said, "The person that did this evil deed is not who I want to be," With his back to us, he appeared to be weeping, and being comforted by Lawry. But watching the video (see below) his eyes were tearless, the crying seemingly faked).
The motive was stealing Mike Webb's money for drugs. White used Webb's food stamps debit card, pawned his belongings; hid Mike's body, then posed as him in messages and email to fool the family.
"The facts of this murder are indisputably horrific and gruesome," Ramsdell said. "In my mind, Mr. White is not some poor, unfortunate victim of circumstance. He's a master manipulator who will do whatever it takes to attain his own ends."
Smiles and tears broke out in the courtroom when Judge Ramsdell sentenced White to 244 months - a 220-month sentence with a 24-month enhancement for using the axe.
(photo: Judge Ramsdell)
Later, Marian Bogni said Prosecutor Dan Satterberg's failure to ask for the maximum sentence was "a big slap in the face." But they were pleased after the sentencing. "I'm grateful for the judge's common sense in the case, " Wayne said.
It seems this story might finally be over. It seemed never ending from the December day in 2005 when Mike Webb was fired by KIRO; through his fraud trials and tribulations, his disappearance and death; then the long, long time his murderer Scott White sat in jail without a court date.
Maybe now the Webbs and everyone else touched by this tragedy can find some peace.