The Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport recently upheld a 20-year sentence for a Bastrop woman convicted of manslaughter after she stabbed her boyfriend to death in early 2018.
In May 2019, Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Jefferson sentenced Breanna S. White, of Bastrop, to 20 years at hard labor for manslaughter. White appealed Jefferson’s ruling to the Second Circuit.
White was arrested in May 2018 after she got into an argument with her boyfriend, Tavario Minnieweather. The pair lived together. During an argument, White armed herself with a steak knife and stabbed Minnieweather in the shoulder.
“Tavario ran out of the house, and White followed him,” stated the Second Circuit’s ruling. “In the driveway, White stabbed Tavario in his leg behind his knee, striking an artery and causing Tavario to bleed to death. White then went back inside the house, where she washed off the knife and put it in the dish drainer.”
White claimed she used the knife because Minnieweather was hitting her with a wooden board and that she wanted to make sure he left.
“Despite her claims, the responding officers could not locate the alleged blue board, and there were no injuries to White’s person consistent with her portrayal,” stated the Second Circuit opinion.
A grand jury indicted her for second-degree murder though White pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January 2019. Jefferson denied White’s motion to reconsider sentence on the basis of her mental health conditions and claims of killing in self defense.
In her appeal, White argued the 20-year sentence was excessive because it failed to take into account her mental disorders. White also claimed there was no evidence to contradict her version of the events.
“Here, we do not find that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing White to 20 years at hard labor,” stated the Second Circuit ruling. “Wanda Minnieweather, the mother of the victim, also submitted a statement, indicating the following: Wanda knew White was ‘bad news’ from their initial meeting; she knew White had previously ‘cut’ other people; White had previously ‘cut’ Tavario, who was planning on leaving White; and, Wanda’s whole life has changed since Tavario’s death.”
Second Circuit Judge James “Jimbo” Stephens, of Baskin, wrote the April 22 opinion on behalf of a three-judge panel also including Chief Judge Frances Williams and Jeanette Garrett.
During his sentence, Jefferson noted that White was not in danger when Minnieweather left the house, and she could have stayed in the house and called police.
“The trial court ultimately concluded an aggravating factor was the fact that White followed Tavario down the driveway as he was leaving,” stated the Second Circuit ruling. “Considering the facts of this case, the sentence imposed by the trial court does not shock the sense of justice, nor is it grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offense—Tavario Minnieweather lost his life.”