by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 8, 2022) — Just days before a November 4, 2021 hearing on a post-conviction petition for Tennessee inmate Jason Lamar White was to take place, Shelby County, TN Judge Robert Carter abruptly canceled it, along with White’s transfer order to attend, stating he would instead hold a hearing solely on White’s motion that he recuse himself from the case.

White first filed the post-conviction petition on January 2, 2020.

Rescheduled from August 27 to November 4, the post-conviction petition hearing was postponed a second time to January 18, 2022.

However, that date, too, was changed, and along with it a second transfer order canceled. The new new date for the post-conviction hearing is now set for April 7.

On November 1, when Carter canceled the November 4 hearing, his order stated he would hold a hearing on November 19 to rule on the recusal motion, but that never occurred, according to White’s mother, Kimberly White. 

According to an order from the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals at Jackson filed December 20, 2021, Carter denied the recusal motion on November 19.

The appellate court’s order denied White’s December 13, 2021 appeal of denial of the second motion to recuse on the grounds that it arrived three days beyond the 21-day mandatory time frame.

Although incarcerated by the State of Tennessee, White has been housed in New Mexico since May 2019, when he was in the process of appealing his 2017 conviction for an alleged plot to distribute drugs in a school zone via his girlfriend, Kristina Cole, who was also convicted and remains in a Tennessee prison.

A package police said contained methamphetamine was placed on Cole’s porch in a “controlled delivery” by the Bartlett Police Department on February 3, 2016; Cole was arrested the same day.

While Cole received a 13.5-year sentence with no prior criminal record, White received a 60-year sentence which, given his current age of 40 years, renders him a lifetime prisoner.  White was completing a 21-year sentence for an unrelated crime committed when he was 18 when he was met with the new charges.

A capias was issued on White on April 22, 2016 following a grand jury indictment; White was arraigned on June 2, 2016.

Both White and Cole have appealed their convictions to higher courts as well as filed post-conviction petitions.

A witness to the case who the assistant district attorney, Chris Scruggs, later prosecuted as a co-defendant, Tennessee inmate Montez Mullins, confessed to the plot and stated neither Cole nor White was involved.  Mullins was convicted and sentenced, but his admission made no difference in the cases brought against Cole and White.

The records from the cell phone her son allegedly used to communicate with Cole about the package prior to their arrests were never searched, Kimberly told David Tulis of Noogaradio last summer.

Thus far, White’s two motions for Carter to recuse himself have been denied and his appeals to higher courts rejected.  In the motions, White asserted that ex parte communication between Carter and Scruggs dating back to May 2016 should be cause for Carter’s recusal.

White has also thus far unsuccessfully moved to have Scruggs and Tennessee’s 30th Judicial District disqualified from the case.

In both of the latest hearing postponements, White had begun the process of interstate transfer, only to learn he would not be returning to Tennessee after all. 

White is technically representing himself in the proceedings, although he retains “elbow counsel” in the person of Shae Atkinson.  Subpoenas Atkinson served on White’s behalf were received, he told Kimberly last fall, except for former Bartlett Police Department detective Mark Gaia, who was reportedly “evading service.”

In his testimony at White’s trial, Gaia admitted to sending text messages concerning the package via Cole’s phone while she was in police custody

As of March 7, Atkinson told Kimberly that according to Leslie Byrd of the 30th Judicial District’s office, Gaia “has not yet been served.”

In White’s case, the original charges were upgraded from “Class E” felonies to “Class A” felonies without explanation and his online court record accordingly altered, a point White has argued in recent petitions.

A new transfer order has been issued for White and Mullins; it remains to be seen if it will ultimately result in White’s travel from New Mexico and Mullins’s transfer to Shelby County, TN prior to April 7.

As with many of the documents associated with her son’s case, Kimberly confirmed that Jason’s birth date of “3/11/1981” is misrepresented as “03/11/1987” on the transfer order.

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  1. He is a innocent young man he deserves a chance and the society as well as others I believe that he has been wrongfully accused I pray that God sees Justice properly and fairly I believe he is innocent