Matthew White sentenced to life without parole on Friday for murdering his wife
Matthew B. White, 35, of Chandlers Valley, will spend the rest of his life in a Pennsylvania state prison for murdering his wife, Jessica L. White, on June 21, 2017.
After a jury passed down a guilty verdict Thursday following a four-day trial, a sentencing proceeding was held Friday.
Members of Jessica’s family spoke prior to sentencing.
“The trial was about an act of senseless violence,” Jessica’s mother, Sheryl Johnson, said.
Sentencing was about Jessica and what her loss means to family, friends, and the community.
“I struggle daily with this grief,” Johnson said. “I am still in disbelief that this could happen to my baby girl. I want to hear my phone ring on my daily commute and hear her happy voice.”
“Jessie was my baby sister,” Kathy Knierim said. “Jessie was my best friend. Jessie was part of my heart and part of my soul.”
“My sister, my best friend, my rock, my champion, was taken away,” she said. “I just know that I have to live in this world without my sister and nothing will ever be okay again.”
Three children lost both of their parents when their father was convicted on Thursday of murdering their mother.
“Imagine having to know that your father killed your mother… the burden that they will carry for the rest of their lives,” Johnson said.
She recalled speaking with the oldest child, seven at the time, shortly after June 21. “He looked at me and said, ‘She said she’d always be here for me.'”
The children have been moved “hours away.”
“One day they were at home and they have their mom and their dad… and then they didn’t,” Johnson said. “They lost both their parents, their pets, their home, their friends, everything. As an adult that would be hard to understand. I can’t imagine how they’ve survived this much.”
“I really struggle thinking that Jessie’s children will not remember her,” she said.
She said she would do her best to held the children know their mother. “They will have my memories that I give to them. It’s not the same as Jess being there, but it’s as close as I can get.”
“Those poor babies have to grow up without their mother… and having to carry the burden of knowing that their father did it,” Knierim said. “I watch my children navigate a world that is no longer safe. One act of violence. Innocence gone forever.”
“I am Jessie’s big sister,” Knierim said. “It was my job to protect her. I failed her.”
“The man I trusted to take care of her took her life violently, senselessly,” Johnson said. “I am thankful that along with this conviction comes a long sentence — that if Jess can’t participate in life, this man can’t participate in it either.”
Asked if he understood his post-sentence rights, White said he did. He asked for a copy of them saying he was concerned about the deadline for filing an appeal on the basis of “ineffective assistance of counsel.”
Skerda said he would have access to those documents in prison.
White spoke when given the opportunity.
“I hope they look for the real person that did it,” White said. “I hope they take into consideration that it could have been someone else who pulled the trigger.”
“I love my wife and my three kids,” he said. “I love my family.”
“You repeatedly have shown no remorse because you do not believe you committed this crime,” President Judge Maureen Skerda said to White.
“You may not recognize this, you may not recognize that you are guilty of this crime, but you are,” she said. “The jury has spoken.”
She agreed with comments made by others that “it’s clear that” Jessica “has been stolen from society,” and that she treated him with “more grace than you probably deserve.”
“In terms of your sentence, the court has no option,” Skerda said. “You are sentenced to a state correctional institution for life without possibility of parole.”