His lawyers said the manslaughter charge was dismissed as part of the deal.
Casey White pleaded guilty Thursday to his 2022 prison escape, sparking a days-long manhunt that ended in the death of a corrections officer who authorities said helped him break out of an Alabama detention center.
White, 39, was charged with first-degree fugitive following his capture in May 2022. He was later charged with causing the death of Vicky White, 56. Authorities said the arrests followed an 11-day manhunt in Indiana.
When he pleaded guilty Thursday at the Lauderdale County Courthouse, he appeared for a pretrial hearing on the murder charge that was expected to begin in June.
“Today’s events will surprise you as much as we do,” one of his lawyers, Robert Dutton, told reporters outside court. “Today, things happened unexpectedly very fast.”
Casey White offered an emotional apology to Vicki White’s family, saying it “shouldn’t have happened.” Huntsville, Alabama, ABC Affiliated Way.
He told the court that the two were in love and planned to run away and make a new life somewhere, WAAY reported.
Casey White’s attorneys said the state dismissed a felony murder charge in Vicki White’s death as part of the plea deal.
He agreed to a life sentence, the maximum sentence for the lesser escape offense and to waive his right to appeal, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connelly said.
“We consulted with Vicki White’s family before entering into this agreement. They approved of the settlement and were relieved to settle the case without a lengthy jury trial and years of appeals,” Connelly said in a statement to ABC News.
Casey White will be formally sentenced to life in prison on June 8, according to Connelly.
“We believe this is a fair resolution of this case,” his attorneys, Duden, Mark McDaniel, Marcus Helstowski, Nick Heatherly and Nick Locke, said in a statement to ABC News.
“At the time Casey made his plea, he expressed his love for Vicki White and apologized to her family,” they added.
On April 29, 2022, Casey White was awaiting the death penalty in the Lauderdale County Jail when he fled in his patrol car.
Authorities believe Vicky White willingly participated in the escape, which happened on the last day before retirement.
The two, who are unrelated, were last seen on May 9, 2022 at a hotel in Evansville, Indiana. Authorities said the Cadillac they bought in Evansville led police on a car chase that lasted several minutes before crashing into a ditch.
Vicky White was hospitalized with gunshot wounds and later died.