Man Sentenced to Life for Stabbing Ex-Wife, Setting Fire in Long Reach
"It was a horrific crime and an example of horrific rage," the judge said of Damon Willie White's crime against his ex-wife, Thelma Wynn.
Damon Willie White was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for stabbing his ex-wife, Thelma Wynn, more than 100 times last September, then setting her apartment on fire.
White, 36, was also sentenced to serve 30 years consecutively to the life sentence for arson. After stabbing Wynn 103 times, White set her Long Reach apartment afire.
“It was a horrific crime and an example of horrific rage," Circuit Court Judge Richard Bernhardt said after sentencing White.
Bernhardt said he considered many factors in reaching his decision but that the arson was especially heinous because White’s actions put others, including other residents and firefighters, in harm’s way.
A Grisly Scene
On Sept. 7, 2010, the body of Wynn, 37, a mother of four, was discovered by emergency responders in a back bedroom of the burning Majors Lane apartment. They also discovered White, bleeding from a self-inflicted wound.
White was taken to Howard County General Hospital for treatment and was charged with murder and arson.
Howard County Police Detective J. Daniel Lenick described in a police report that Wynn had numerous stab wounds on her back, trauma to the back of her head and other trauma and stab wounds.
A Tumultuous Past
The relationship between White and Wynn had been strained for several months, according to court documents.
The two were married in Towson on July 21, 2006. They were divorced on Dec. 8, 2009.
Wynn and White have one child together, Shomari White, who was born in 2003.
Wynn filed for a protective order against White in April 2008, citing abusive behavior.
In August, White was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree arson in Wynn's death.
An Emotional Day
White entered the courtroom Tuesday in handcuffs, as nearly two dozen people inside watched. Among them were several members of Wynn’s family and friends.
Prosecutors said the state was seeking the maximum penalty for White’s crime, life without the possibility of parole.
The defense argued that White deserved a chance at rehabilitation.
A few of those present spoke about how the incident had affected them before Bernhardt handed down his decision.
Gregory Issacs, the father of three of Wynn's children, was the first to take the stand and spoke directly to White. He was visibly shaken and wiped tears from his face as he spoke.
He described Wynn as a close ‘confidant’ and his high school sweetheart.
“I always promised I’d be there to protect her,” he said.
He said Wynn had been a friend for over 20 years and he was deeply saddened her children would have to grow up without a mother.
“If you have a problem, walk away," he said directly to White. "You have no right to take life. That's not your decision."
Wynn’s mother, Vivian Lindsay, was also visibly upset. She spoke about how hard her daughter had worked to provide for her children. Wynn had worked as a childcare provider, nurse’s aide and waitress, she said.
Lindsay described her daughter as kind, loving and a devoted mother.
Defense attorneys also called witnesses to speak on behalf of White.
Among those who spoke were his aunt, Celeste Edwards, who said she had helped raise her nephew from birth.
She said she still believed White was a good person and she apologized directly to Wynn’s family, receiving a quiet, “Thank you,” from Wynn’s mother.
White, speaking quietly and rarely lifting his eyes from the table in front of him, apologized multiple times and also thanked those who have helped raise Wynn’s children.
“I never meant to hurt anyone,” he said. “Every day I wish I could turn back what transpired,” he said. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.”