STAUNTON — With thunder rumbling outside the Augusta County Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon, Dwayne White, charged with first-degree murder, took the stand on the second day of his trial and testified about the night his wife was shot 12 times last summer.
According to White, 42, it was his wife who pulled a gun on him. He said he was trying to take the weapon away from her when it discharged over and over again inside their Crimora home during the early-morning hours of July 19, 2021.
Based on his own testimony, White didn’t bother to check on his wife or immediately call 911. Instead, he exited the home, got in a car with his cousin and left the scene, tossing both his cell phone and his wife’s about 200 yards away on Morton Road, where they lived.
“I was scared,” White said when asked why he fled the scene.
The body of Kelin Pacheco-White, 38, was found in an upstairs laundry room. An autopsy revealed she had multiple gunshot wounds to her back, legs, side, chest, shoulder, left arm and neck. She had 13 gunshot wounds in all, with one of the bullets going through her left arm and into her neck.
Pacheco-White graduated from Wilson Memorial High School in 2001 and attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg on an academic scholarship. She was employed by the Hershey Chocolate Company for 18 years.
Evidence showed the couple’s marriage was in trouble, and White admitted on the stand to being unfaithful. On the day leading up to the killing, White and his wife exchanged angry texts. He also admitted to drinking alcohol, which is why he asked his cousin to drive him to his home, where he arrived shortly after midnight.
Once he got there, video surveillance from the residence showed he was inside for about eight to nine minutes.
According to White, he was going to the home to grab a change of clothes but also hoped to get an offer to sleep on the couch. While there, White said he went to their bedroom and grabbed his wife’s phone in an effort to see if she’d been texting with his mother, who he said had divulged the affair to his wife.
“She immediately put me in a headlock,” White said.
Moments later, White claimed his wife pulled a gun, a gun he said he didn’t know she had. “She got the gun in her hand,” he testified.
As he backed up in a hallway toward the laundry room, White said he went after his wife. “I just lunged and hit her, I think in the face,” he said. “Soon as I hit her, the first shot went off.” As they struggled, he said the gun went off “numerous times.”
“Who was it pointed at?” asked Augusta County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Lorna Port.
“I guess it was pointed downward,” White said. When asked where the first shot hit, he replied, “I have no idea, it was dark.”
Port continued to press White on the stand as more than three dozen onlookers in the courtroom listened. “You sat here for the last couple of days and realized that the shots didn’t miss anything — they all hit your wife. Was the gun pointed at your wife when that first shot went off?”
“No,” White said.
When asked how his wife was shot in the back multiple times during the struggle he described, White said, “Like I said, it was dark, I don’t know.”
On Tuesday during the first day of the trial, a medical examiner said some of the shots were fired from just 1 to 2 feet away, close enough to leave gunshot residue on the victim.
When asked by his attorney if he was holding the gun when it went off, White said, "Yes."
White went to the Staunton Police Department several hours after the shooting, evidence showed. An Augusta County deputy was sent to the home and found Pacheco-White's body in the upstairs laundry room.
The gun was never recovered. The phones were found by an Augusta County Sheriff's Office investigator.
Both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases Wednesday, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations after Thursday’s closing arguments.
White faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
Brad Zinn is the cops, courts and breaking news reporter at The News Leader. Have a news tip? Or something that needs investigating? You can email reporter Brad Zinn (he/him) at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Suspect in Augusta County slaying testifies wife pulled gun on him