Richburg man accused of killing alleged rapist released on bond

Herald columnistAugust 31, 2012 

— No more jail cots and scratchy blankets and handcuffs for Antwan Terrill White. Just uncertainty – and maybe a chance to make enough money to feed a 2-year-old daughter.

And hopes that the rest of his life is not spent on jail cots.

Following three weeks in jail after being accused of killing the alleged rapist of a family member – a crime he claims he did not commit – White is out on bond.

White’s family scraped together $4,000 in bond money – 10 percent of the $40,000 bond set by a judge. For a family of humble means who live in a mobile home and a guy with a savings of about $300, that four grand in cash is huge. White’s mother works as a clerk in a store.

Forty bucks is a lot of money for a working family; $4,000 boggles the mind. But this family believes in White and his innocence.

So does White’s lawyer.

“Mr. White absolutely maintains his innocence and so do I,” Arthur Gaston of Chester said Friday after his client got out of jail.

White, 21, wanted to see his parents, his child, his home and supporters, Gaston said.

“He was just happy to get home to see his child and his family,” said Gaston. “And it is his intention that he will be able to return to work.”

That’s the next order of business, Gaston said. Before he was arrested for the first time in his life, White worked on the concrete floor in the warehouse at the Northern Tool distribution center in Fort Mill.

The assistant plant manager at Northern Tool declined to comment Friday about whether White would be allowed to come back to work.

The dead man, Michael Jermaine Terry, 39, is alleged to have committed the heinous act of rape against a 16-year-old family member just moments before he was killed. Terry had a criminal record dating back 20 years.

The problem with all the tough talk around town by so many who claim Terry had it coming is that none of those blowhards had to post bond to be with their families today. None of them are hoping, like Antwan White is, that justice comes in a case where the justice system never had a chance to get started.

Prosecutors claim that on July 29, White, in retaliation for the alleged rape, grabbed a shotgun and took off looking for Terry. Both men are related to the 16-year-old girl who reported the rape.

Prosecutors say White shot Terry twice – once in the chest, once point-blank in the face.

Police had only just taken the report of the rape when Terry was found dead down the road.

Richburg is a tiny place of just a few hundred people. Almost universally, at gas stations and restaurants and little stores Friday, people who said they met White or knew of him said he was a quiet, decent guy.

One of the first responders to the crime scene, found Friday at McDonalds near tiny Richburg, said nobody knew at first it was a murder. It was thought maybe someone had been hit by a car.

Prosecutor Chris Taylor Friday declined to comment on the pending case, after saying in court Tuesday that White’s act was “retaliation” for the rape.

White hopes to go back to work lugging generators in a warehouse while facing the very real potential that a conviction for murder could land him in prison for at least 30 years, maybe life.

All this in a case that has ratcheted up the emotions of people about crime like no other event in recent memory.

Chester County Sheriff Richard Smith said Friday the rape investigation is not over.

At the same time, he said, deputies are still investigating Terry’s death.

And that right there is where the death of an accused rapist and the man charged with killing him always comes back to.

The law does not allow vigilante justice.

Police investigate criminal allegations and make arrests. Prosecutors seek convictions. Judges hand down sentences. The public pays taxes and expects all those elements to work.

White is scheduled to appear in court again in October. That gives him weeks to try to make a living, hold his 2-year-old daughter and talk to his lawyer.

He will be at home as the justice system does what it’s supposed to do – make sure innocent men do not go to jail and guilty ones do.

The same system police and prosecutors say White did not give Terry, by acting as judge, jury and executioner.

Andrew Dys 803-329-4065 adys@heraldonline.com

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