A Baltimore man was sentenced Tuesday to life without parole plus 30 years in prison for the murder of his former wife and setting her Columbia apartment ablaze.
Handing down the maximum sentence, Howard County Circuit Judge Richard Bernhardt told Damon Willie White, 36, that he had committed a "horrible, horrible crime that requires an appropriate response."
Not only had White taken a mother from her four children and the rest of her family, the judge said, but he endangered others by putting gasoline and a match to his victim's Long Reach apartment and then did not take responsibility for his actions.
Officials said White turned the knife on himself and was rescued from the burning building.
On Sept. 7, 2010, Thelma Wynn, 37, was stabbed 103 times in what the judge called "a horrific rage," and bled to death. White was convicted of first-degree murder and arson in August.
White said he did not recall what happened. Whether he was malingering, as a state doctor who evaluated him suspected, or didn't remember and did not communicate well remained a point of contention. Bernhardt, however, said that in the evaluation, White displayed a pattern of blaming others for his problems.
Gregory Isaac Jr., the father of Wynn's older children — two teenage daughters — said he and Wynn were high school sweethearts and had remained close. He said he lost his confidante when she was killed. He is raising the girls and the youngest child, who is White's son with Wynn. Wynn's other son lives elsewhere.
"You had no right to take a life away," Isaac tearfully told White in court.
The children, he said, miss their mother terribly. Since her mother's death, the elder daughter has graduated from high school and is preparing to join the Navy; the younger daughter celebrated her 16th birthday; and White's son, who refers to his late mother as "my beautiful," asks Isaac, "Why did my daddy do that?" he said. White has no answer for him.
Vivian Lindsay, the victim's mother, said she tried to help her daughter as she struggled to create a stable home for her children. "There are four wounded children here," she said.
"What he did was wrong, he is going to pay for that," White's aunt, Celeste Edwards, said through tears. "He is still my nephew. I don't want to turn on him because I still love him."
Apologizing to Wynn's family as well as his own, White thanked Isaac for taking in his child.
He said he felt remorse, but didn't remember what happened.
"I never meant to hurt anyone or do anything wrong," he said.
Prosecutors had asked that White receive the maximum sentence. The defense team had asked that all but 20 years of a life sentence for murder be suspended.