Leroy “Bo” White was convicted in 1970 of being one of several men responsible for the 1969 rape of a white teenager in New Iberia, Louisiana.
The girl did not identify Mr. White, but identified several people he knew. The State planned to try him based on the word of one of his co-defendants, the youngest, who avoided serious criminal charges himself by implicating many young black men. IPNO later discovered that the co-defendant was severely mentally ill. The co-defendants were all facing the death penalty.
After seeing two convicted and one sentenced to death, Mr. White’s mother asked the sheriff what to do. The sheriff told her that Mr. White should plead guilty and if he was ‘good,’ he would be eligible for release in 10 years and six months. The judge and his lawyer told him the same. Mr. White pled guilty on the morning of his trial. Subsequently the Department of Corrections policy on when lifers were eligible for release changed and Mr. White was never eligible.
From inside prison, Mr. White desperately sought DNA testing as soon as he heard about it. By 2004, he had persuaded a judge to order the clerk in New Iberia to look for the evidence. Miraculously, the clerk found the evidence. IPNO signed on to the case and won DNA testing, which identified numerous separate male profiles on the victim’s underwear, not one of whom was Mr. White. However, because he had pled guilty, the case was complicated and so in 2006, when the State offered him an Alford plea (in which the accused is permitted to plead guilty because it is in his best interests but is not forced to admit his guilt) and his immediate release, he took it.
Mr. White was 56 years old and had spent 37 ½ years in prison. In September 2006, he was released from Angola to a crowd of supporters, including the smiling face of his dormitory companion at Angola for 20 years, IPNO’s client, Gregory Bright, who had been the most ardent advocate for Mr. White since being released himself.
After nine and a half years of freedom, Leroy “Bo” White passed away in Shreveport, Louisiana in early 2016.