The 38-year-old honor student at Cabrillo College was denied release at the Oct. 5 proceeding after a hearing officer reviewed the case against him, Santa Cruz defense attorney Ben Rice said.
White turned down the offer to serve nine months in state prison if he admitted guilt to the violation, Rice said.
“As we expected, the hearing officer said there was probable cause of parole violation. He said his hands were tied and that he couldn’t dismiss the charges,” Rice said. “But this gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that Colter’s accuser is a liar and has motive against Colter.”
Rice said that White openly disapproved of the accuser’s underage girlfriend which angered the complainant.
The ex-con-turned-4.0-student faces up to a year in prison for allegedly threatening and assaulting a man from the same Narcotics Anonymous group meetings.
Sherriff’s deputies arrested him in Live Oak on Sept. 18 after White went to authorities on his own accord upon word of the accusation. Even though the District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against White, the brush with the law was enough to send him to state prison for an alleged parole violation.
The second hearing will probably occur in the next 10 days and will allow White to present evidence, Rice said.
“The so-called victim will have to testify at the next hearing,” Rice said. “He was not present at the last hearing.”
Rice has been gathering evidence against White’s accuser and said he has quite a bit against him.
“We have a really great chance of winning. We have so much against the individual, so hopefully we will win,” Rice said.
The proceeding will be held at Santa Cruz County Jail and like the Oct. 5 hearing it will be closed to the public.
“I was really down about it,” said girlfriend Courtney Morse of Monday’s outcome. “But I was told that these types of hearings always give higher sentencing. They were going to give a year but saw all the letters of support and dropped it down to nine.”
White's peers, instructors and family have been collecting letters and taped testimonials to show the colossal support White has in the community.
Currently, the “Free Colter” Facebook page created by his peers and faculty at Cabrillo has 275 members. Rice said over 300 people signed a petition in support of White and about 100 character reference letters have been generated since his arrest—including testaments from Cabrillo College President Brian King and Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel).
Monning heard about White after receiving calls from several Cabrillo students. Monning said he also spoke with King about White’s many community achievements.
“I understand the Board was acting on what they had to do,” Monning said. “And while the news of Monday’s hearing is disappointing I’m optimistic that they will reverse the charge at the coming hearing. That would be my hope.”
Monning will speak at Cabrillo College on Thursday at 4 p.m. to address White’s case and prison reform.
White has been in the prison system since his youth, but decided to change his life path six years ago while at Pelican Bay state prison. Behind bars, White earned his GED and started taking college courses through the mail. Upon his release, White moved to Boulder Creek with his mother and her longtime partner, enrolled as a full-time communications student at Cabrillo and got a job in construction. He has designs on transferring to Santa Clara University and becoming a lawyer one day soon, his family said.
Last Thursday, over 60 people gathered at Cabrillo College to make a video to show the Parole Board that White does not deserve to be behind bars. The gathering came one week after a supporters rallied in downtown Santa Cruz to advocate White’s freedom.
White had only two months left on parole when he was arrested.
Rice said White is in solitary confinement at San Quentin and is very despondent about being separated from his family and friends.
“But, he’s incredibly heartened by all the support and is still very determined to stay on the path he’s been on,” Rice said. “He had tears in his eyes when I showed him all the letters of support.”
Bill Monning will speak about Colter White and prison reform on Thursday, Oct. 8 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Cabrillo College in room 454, near the campus quad