Ladrena Robinson never thought she would be talking about her older sister’s death in a courtroom full of people – including the man accused of shooting her sister.
But that’s where she found herself Monday morning: in a quiet courtroom, surrounded by family and friends.
It has been 11 months since Shrece Charlete Robinson, 25, was shot and killed, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, in front of his mother’s Robinson Street home.
Carl Eugene White Jr., 29, pleaded guilty Monday to murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and possession of a pistol by a convicted person.
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Circuit Judge Lee S. Alford sentenced White to 30 years in prison with no chance for parole.
White and Robinson had a young son together – 2-year-old Zaylen Carlik White. Zaylen was the subject of one of two pictures Ladrena Robinson held up for Judge Alford to see Monday.
“Zaylen is a joy to be around,” she said. “I wish she was able to watch him grow up.”
The second was a picture of her slain sister, head tilted to the side, a large smile on her face.
“I still can see her smile,” Ladrena Robinson said. “She will always live within me in spirit.”
Ladrena Robinson told the court her family was still in shock at Shrece Robinson’s death, especially because White had “never shown her sister any harm.”
Cousin Connisha Stewart agreed, adding that Shrece Robinson had complimented White for playing an active role as Zaylen’s father.
But around midnight on May 21, Rock Hill Police responded to a home at 234 Robinson St. after receiving reports of a shooting. They found Shrece Robinson dead in the home’s driveway.
White fled with Zaylen, prompting police to issue an Amber Alert.
Hours later, White was stopped on Interstate 20 by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. He was holding a bottle of vodka, police said, and Zaylen was in the backseat, standing up and wearing no seatbelt.
White’s blood alcohol content was 0.15 – almost twice the legal limit, officials said.
According to the State Law Enforcement Division, White has been charged with at least 12 crimes, including two assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature charges, a weapons charge and a criminal domestic violence charge.
New details from the murder case emerged Monday.
Shrece Robinson had gone to White’s parents’ home that night to talk to him about his visitation with their son, assistant solicitor Willy Thompson said. Robinson was upset when she learned White had lined up a babysitter for Zaylen during his time with his father.
After the shooting, White’s mother called police, Thompson said, and White blamed the shooting on “some boys.” White then ran off through a wooded area to where his car was parked. Zaylen and his new girlfriend were in the car.
White met a friend in Chester during the drive, telling his friend he had “messed up,” Thompson said. Though he didn’t tell his friend what had happened, White’s friend lent him $100 and switched vehicles with him.
When the friend heard about the shooting, he called police and reported what happened.
White told police he had had a .38-caliber pistol tucked into his pants when he went to meet Robinson, Thompson said. Robinson reached for the gun, and in the tussle that followed, she was shot twice, White claimed.
As Thompson described how the bullets had entered Shrece Robinson’s body, the relative quiet of the court gave way to sobs and tears.
Public defender Phil Smith represented White and told the court that White would change what happened if he could – although he wouldn’t change anything that brought Zaylen into the world.
However, White declined to say anything to Shrece Robinson’s family or make a statement to the court.
Ladrena Robinson said White just didn’t like the fact his sister had moved on, while Stewart called the shooting “an act of cowardice.”
Still, both said they found room in their hearts for forgiveness.
“I forgive him,” Ladrena Robinson said. “I hope God can go into his mind, body and soul to (help him) forgive himself and make him a better person.”
“This is a tragedy all around,” Judge Alford said before sentencing White. “The child needs all the support of a family he can get.”