Colter White's hearing set for this Wednesday
by Michelle Camerlingo
Oct 15, 2009 | 2045 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Colter White (middle)with fellow honor society members at Cabrillo College. Courtesy photo.
Colter White (middle)with fellow honor society members at Cabrillo College. Courtesy photo.
The fight to free Boulder Creek’s Colter White from incarceration has intensified this week as his pending hearing date nears.

The 38-year-old honor student at Cabrillo College was denied release at an Oct. 5 proceeding after a hearing officer reviewed the case against him. White’s next shot at freedom comes at 8:30 a.m Wednesday, Oct. 21, in Santa Cruz at a closed-door hearing.

The ex-con-turned-4.0-communications student faces up to a year in prison for allegedly threatening and assaulting a man from the same Narcotics Anonymous group meetings.

White’s pro bono attorney, Ben Rice, said he has subpoenaed five witnesses for Wednesday’s hearing.

Brian King, Cabrillo College president, and Dan Rothwell, communication studies program chair at Cabrillo College. have been called on as character witnesses to testify on behalf of White’s community achievements, Rice said.

“The other witnesses will testify against the accuser and his motive to lie and make up the story about Colter,” Rice said. “They will also testify about the accuser’s history of lying and making up stories about people to cover himself.”

Sherriff’s deputies arrested White in Live Oak on Sept. 18 after he 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.

White’s arrest sparked a movement that has amplified steadily week by week.

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, wrote a letter of behalf of White this week, and former Assemblyman John Laird has promised to submit one as well, Rice said.

Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, who also wrote a letter, spoke at Cabrillo College last week about White’s plight and prison reform. He ended his talk with the words, “Free Colter White” to booming applause.

The Free Colter Facebook page created by his peers and faculty at Cabrillo has 288 members, and Rice said more than 300 people signed a petition in support of White.

A large-scale rally is planned for Friday, Oct. 16, to march for White and protest the state’s prison budget, which is three times larger than the budget for education.

White, who has been in the prison system since his youth, changed his life path six years ago while at Pelican Bay State Prison, family members have said. 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.

White’s mother Nancy Nieblas said it’s been a tense wait for word of what’s going to happen to her son. She said her past experiences with bureaucracies, especially the prison system, makes her fear the verdict will not go in her favor.

“But I’m trying to stay positive. Almost every day hope arrives in some form, even when I’m in despair,” Nieblas said. “I tell myself there is too much energy going on for this not to go Colt’s way.”

To comment, e-mail reporter Michelle Camerlingo at, call 438-2500 or post a comment at March for Education and Prison Reform

Beginning at the park on 194 Mission Street to the courthouse and ending with a rally at the Clock tower on Friday, Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m. For more information contact Emily Nord at 588.1316

Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 15, 2009
Thank you, Michelle Camerlingo, for your research and reporting of this case. The public needs to be aware of how the system is set up to encourge failure rather than to support rehabilitation. More money for education will result in less need for prison dollars!

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