Minnesota Supreme Court affirms 2001 Duluth murder case
Tyrone White filed a petition last year requesting a hearing on alleged juror misconduct in his 2003 trial.
DULUTH — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to reopen the case of a man convicted two decades ago of masterminding a robbery-turned-murder in Duluth's Central Hillside neighborhood.
The state's high court affirmed a ruling that denied an evidentiary hearing to Tyrone James White, who was found guilty of two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree murder and one count of aiding and abetting attempted first-degree murder in the shooting death of Milton P. Williams, 26, and critical wounding of Tami M. Carlson.
Authorities said White, then 27, instigated, organized and directed what was planned to be a robbery of drugs and money from a fellow drug dealer at 1121 E. Second St. on April 24, 2001.
Williams, who had lived in Minneapolis and Duluth, suffered three gunshot wounds to his legs and a fatal shot to the top of his head during the attack. Carlson, the mother of two sons who were 10 and 13 at the time of the shootings, suffered a gunshot to the left side of her face that broke her jaw and paralyzed a vocal chord.
Also convicted in the case were Vidale Lee Whitson and Benjamin Edward King, who testified that Whitson pulled the trigger. A prosecutor maintained Carlson was shot because she witnessed Williams' murder and only survived because the gun jammed.
White alleged in his petition, filed in State District Court in January 2022, that the foreperson on his jury was biased because she failed to disclose that she worked at the same casino as a potential trial witness, who ultimately did not testify. He additionally claimed his legal counsel was ineffective for failing to seek dismissal of the juror.
But Chief Justice Lorie Gildea ruled that his claims were barred by a two-year time limit for seeking post-conviction proceedings and failed to provide new evidence of an injustice warranting an exception.
The Supreme Court previously affirmed White's convictions in 2004 and 2006, turning down claims that included ineffective counsel and racial discrimination in the jury selection process.
"The trial record contained evidence of the potential connection between the jury foreperson and (the witness)," Gildea wrote in Wednesday's unanimous opinion. "And White relied on his theory that the two knew each other in his first petition for post-conviction relief. Fifteen years later, White renewed his theory, supported now with his investigator's report. But he has not identified an injustice that caused that delay."
White, now 48, is serving a life sentence plus 15 years. He will be nearly 70 before he sees any possibility of supervised release.