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No prison for woman who drove SUV into building to hit husband

Published January 8, 2013 9:17 pm

Court • She gets jail time, a fine, probation, community service for her actions in 2006.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Not a day goes by that Jon White doesn't think back to April 26, 2006.

Every time he looks in the mirror, he sees the scars on his chest, a reminder of glass shards that cut into his skin. And every day, he suffers from pain as a result of a broken leg and ankle he suffered after his then-wife crashed her sports-utility vehicle through the Salt Lake County office building, where he worked, and hit him twice.

Similarly, not a day goes by that Brenda White doesn't think back to that same day.

Her morning routine — once filled with caring for her two daughters — is now vastly different, a daily reminder that a mistake made nearly seven years ago cost her the custody of her children.

On Tuesday, White, 37, was sentenced to probation and a year in jail for her actions that day.

Prosecutors and Jon White asked the judge for prison time. Brenda White's attorney, Jason Schatz, requested 90 days in jail and probation.

But 3rd District Judge William Barrett told an audience that overflowed the courtroom in support of both defendant and victim that he hoped his sentence would make no one happy.

"I was flip-flopping all over the place," Barrett said of his decision. "She needs to be punished for what she did, but the question in my mind is, should she go to prison?"

Ultimately, Barrett suspended potential one-to-15-year prison terms in favor of 36 months probation and 365 days in jail.

White also must complete 300 hours of community service, pay $24,000 in restitution, and reimburse the state Office for Victims of Crime $5,745. 41.

A trial in August ended in a mistrial after someone claimed to have overheard three jurors discussing the case in an elevator.

Instead of re-trying the case — which was delayed for years while Brenda White appealed Barrett's refusal to let her defense claim of extreme emotional distress — prosecutors settled it with a plea deal, and she pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and criminal mischief, both second-degree felonies. She was initially charged with first-degree felony attempted murder and criminal mischief.

During the short-lived August trial, Brenda White admitted injuring Jon White, but testified she was under the influence of anti-anxiety medication at the time and had blacked out before crashing through the building.

On Tuesday, Jon White told Barrett he suffered 10 years of physical and verbal abuse at the hands of his wife prior to the incident. She had punched him, pulled his hair out and called him names, he said, adding that the car attack "was not a one-time incident."

Jon White said that on April 26, his wife came to his office at Woodland Towers building, near 4100 South and 700 East, and threatened him, telling him that she pictured his face at the shooting range, then made a shooting motion at him with her hand.

Brenda White later returned as he was leaving work, and chased him back into the building by driving her Ford Explorer through the glass doors and into the lobby, according to testimony. The SUV struck the man, causing him to flop over the vehicle and fall to the floor. The couple have since divorced.

Brenda White offered an apology Tuesday to her ex-husband, other people in his office building that day, and the friends and family who supported her. Over 30 people, with yellow ribbons pinned to their chest, came to Tuesday's sentencing in support of Brenda White.

"This is not something I'm proud of," she told the judge. "I know they [her family] aren't proud of me either."


Twitter: @jm_miller






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