Breen White, the brother of an Irishman savagely murdered in Queens in 1996, has stopped the release on parole of the killer after making a dramatic dash to New York to make sure the killer stays behind bars.
Jamie Carr, who was sentenced to first-degree manslaughter in 1997 for the death of Francis White, received a minimum sentence of 12 1/2 years. Carr was eligible for parole this coming January and would have been freed but for Breen White’s intervention.
“I knew that Jamie Carr’s parole was coming up so I decided a few months ago that it was time I took a trip back to New York to see what was happening,” White told the Irish Voice during an interview on Monday.
White, who arrived in New York on Tuesday, September 22 and left the following Monday evening, went straight to the offices of executive assistant district attorney for major crimes Daniel Saunders, the man who put Carr away, to see if there was anything that could be done to keep Carr behind bars. He was told that there was.
“He (Carr) was up for parole, and up until I arrived there was no objection to his release which would have meant that he could have been set free in January or maybe earlier,” said White angrily.
White was quick to tell Saunders none of Francis’ family wanted to see his murderer walk free. A family objection was filed using a victim’s impact statement from 1999.
The parole board took into consideration the pain Carr had inflicted on the White family, and he was refused parole. He is now obliged to spend at least another two years in prison before he will be considered for parole again.
Breen White notes that Francis would have been 41 this year. He should be married, living in England and a father of children.
However, Francis White, a chef by trade, didn’t get to experience any of this joy.
White’s life was stolen from him on a dark night in 1996 when he was brutally stabbed to death, all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
White, 28 at the time of his death, was stabbed 13 times by then 26-year-old Carr, who was thrown out of a bar in Forest Hills, Queens where White was socializing for acting up.
White, originally from Dundalk, Co. Louth and living in the U.S. seven years when his young life was taken from him, died within minutes of the attack.
His fiancée was devastated. They were planning to move to England in the coming months.
His family back in Ireland were distraught. They found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that their loved one was brutally murdered in cold blood.
Breen White, who had the unpleasant job of identifying White’s body days after the murder, was glad he came to New York to make sure his brother’s killer was not set free.
“Why should he (Carr) be given back his life now when my brother can’t have his,” said White, 40, over a cup of coffee on Monday morning.
“Every day since Francis’ death, there is something that reminds me of him, several times a day even,” admitted White, who lives in Co. Armagh with his wife and son.
The revoked parole was music to White’s ears.
“I’ll be back again in two years with the same objection, and I will keep coming back until his maximum sentence is served,” said White.
What really angered White and his family back in Ireland, particularly his mother and father, was Carr’s lack of remorse. Not once in the 12 years of time served, or even at the trial, did Carr show say he regretted what he did.
“He never once said he was sorry,” adds White.
The night of the murder, Carr, of Howard Beach, was in the Queens Boulevard area with a friend. The pair were making fake IDs in a store next to O’Hanlon’s Bar.
Carr wandered into the bar asking for change of a $100 bill and two bottles of beer to go. He was refused.
A brawl broke out which, according to Breen, Francis White had nothing to do with. Carr was removed from the bar by the owner, Sean O'Hanlon, and bartender on duty that night, Tom Shannon.
Not long after, White, accompanied by another man, left O’Hanlon’s. Carr, bursting with anger, saw White and began beating his fists off his car, calling on the Irishman to come and fight him.
“Francis didn’t want any trouble,” said Breen.
According to witnesses, White waved Carr away, wanting nothing to do with him.
However, Carr reached into his car, picked up a knife and ran after the Dundalk man, subsequently stabbing him 13 times, first in the throat.
“It was the knife into the kidneys that probably killed him in the end,” said White sadly.
Carr, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after the 1996 attack, was released on bail.
However, exactly a year to the date after he murdered White, Carr was arrested for allegedly selling cocaine in Valley Stream. He was then held without bail until his court trial in February 1998.
White’s parents, his two sisters and Breen all attended Carr’s trial. It lasted over a week.
“We were hoping to get murder one but in the end he got done for first degree manslaughter. Really, it was thanks to Dan Saunders. He was a great help at the time,” said Breen.
White recalls clearly the devastating effect losing a son in such tragic circumstances has had on his parents.
“It’s hard enough losing a child but to something like this, just awful,” he said.
“My mother and my father will never be the same. Francis was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Although White and his family will have to live with the memories of Francis’ death every day, they find some comfort in the fact that his killer remains behind bars for a few more years.
“We are happy with that at least,” said White.
“It will have to do.”