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After legal issues in 2016 trial, Weld County man again convicted of murder, child abuse

Posted at 5:33 AM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 07:33:02-05

GREELEY, Colo. — After a 2016 conviction was overturned, a Weld County man was again convicted of abusing and murdering his girlfriend's toddler.

Michael “Mikey” Lara, 2, died after he was severely injured in May 2015. At the time, John Melvin White, who was dating the child's mother, was babysitting the boy while his mother was at work. White told authorities that the family's 60-pound dog had knocked the boy down the mobile home's porch steps, according to the 19th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

He died after he was taken to a hospital in Aurora.

Medical professionals said the boy's injuries pointed to more severe trauma that could not be associated with a fall.

In addition, toxicology reports found that White was high on methamphetamine while babysitting, according to the district attorney's office.

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After an 11-day trial, John White was convicted in November 2016 of first-degree murder and one count of child abuse resulting in death after killing the child.

“I would like to tell you about the day I taught Mikey to drive…or the day he graduated…or the day he made me a grandparent,” Michael Lara Sr., Mikey's father, said the day of the 2016 sentencing. “But you took all of those moments away from me, John. You took him away from our family...You will now sit in your cell with only your nightmares.”

White was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and 24 years for the child abuse charge.

But that conviction was overturned by the Colorado Court of Appeals in October of 2020 because of legal issues in the trial.

The Colorado Supreme Court chose not to review the Court of Appeals decision in June of 2021, according to the district attorney's office.

On Tuesday, a new jury in Weld County convicted White again of the same charges from the 2016 trial. He was also sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus the maximum sentence of 48 years for the child abuse charge, according to the district attorney's office.

“Twenty-four people from our community, across two jury trials, have now confirmed what we’ve always argued was the truth. That this defendant killed Mikey and that this was not an accident,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wrenn said at the sentencing hearing.