Driver who caused Thanksgiving fatal accident arrested on weapon possession charge, had extensive criminal/traffic history


Demiko Montrell White, Jr., 23, of St. Petersburg, was arrested yesterday on a charge of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. It turns out that the driver is also wanted on a warrant out of Orange County (for violating probation by getting arrested on a battery charge in Leon County) and was sentenced to probation in Pinellas County just 3 days before the accident (for violating a previous probation by failing a drug test), with the provision that he could not leave Pinellas County without permission from his probation officer.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputies (along with Florida Highway Patrol, Alachua Police Department, and High Springs Police Department) responded at 10:44 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to a crash on I-75 that caused an SUV to roll over. Two occupants of the SUV, a 13-year-old girl and 83-year-old woman from High Springs, were ejected and killed in the accident.

Deputies learned from Florida Highway Patrol that the driver of the car that caused the crash had an out-of-county warrant. The alleged driver, Demiko White, also had a suspended driver’s license. When the vehicle was searched, a handgun was found in the glove box, and a small bag of marijuana was found. A search of the driver’s criminal history revealed that White is a convicted felon with an active warrant out of Orange County.

White’s passenger stated that the handgun and marijuana were not his, and he didn’t know who they belonged to. The passenger was not arrested.

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Post Miranda, White agreed to answer questions, and he was asked if he was driving the vehicle involved in the accident. He said, “Y’all already know who was driving, I spoke with a trooper.” The deputy said he needed to re-interview him, then White said he was not the one driving the vehicle. The deputy asked if he was in the passenger seat, and White said, “I never said that.” The deputy then advised White that a handgun was found in the passenger side glove box, to which White reportedly replied, “Oh, no, I was driving.” White said he had no knowledge of the handgun. When asked how the handgun had ended up in the glove box, White said, “It has always been there.” The deputy reminded White that as a convicted felon, he cannot be around any type of firearms, and White reportedly said, “That’s ok, I can beat it.”

The deputy wrote that due to the conflicting stories told by White, there was probably cause to arrest him.

The Orange County warrant dates from an arrest on April 27, 2021, in which the arresting officer reported that White was driving 100 mph on SR 408. That officer pulled this from White’s driving record:

White was adjudicated guilty on the traffic charge and placed on probation for 360 days on May 13. White was then arrested on July 29 in Tallahassee for battery after he got into a fight at a club, then allegedly bit the security guard who tried to escort him out. The arrest report says White qualified for a Notice to Appear, so he was not booked into the jail. His next scheduled court date in Leon County is December 7. The warrant from Orange County was issued on October 13 and recommends that White be incarcerated for a “moderate” amount of time for the probation violation.

White was convicted of felony possession of cocaine and marijuana on August 1, 2016, and sentenced to 6 months probation with the “special condition” that probation would terminate on jail release, which occurred on August 3, 2016. Probation was officially terminated on August 12, 2016. He was cited for careless driving in 2016. His driver’s license was revoked in 2017 for a year as part of a sentence for possession of marijuana; he also received one day of jail time. In January of 2018, he was sentenced to one day (time served) on a charge of battery. In February 2018, he was arrested for possession of marijuana and sentenced in April to 90 days, with credit for 71 days time served. That sentence was concurrent with another sentence from a February 2018 charge of leaving the scene of a traffic accident with property damage.

White had multiple traffic citations in 2019, along with a felony battery charge. In February 2020, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 24 months probation for the battery charge. In March 2020, he was charged with felony fleeing and eluding, and his driver’s license was revoked again, along with a sentence of 60 days in jail. It’s unclear why he was driving on March 11 when he was committed to the jail for 60 days on February 6.

In September 2021, he violated his probation on the felony battery charge by not making any payments toward the cost of supervision and failing a drug test (cocaine). Three days before the accident, he was sentenced to 24 months probation. One of the conditions of that probation was to not leave Pinellas County without the permission of his probation officer.