The Long Island man who was convicted of killing a teenager in a racially-charged 2006 incident had his sentence commuted by Gov. Paterson today. John White, 56, had served only seven months of his two-to-four year prison sentence for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro Jr. when Paterson released him from prison. "While the incident and Mr. White's trial engendered much controversy and comment, and varying assessments of justice were perceived, its most common feature was heartbreak. My decision today may be an affront to some and a joy to others, but my objective is only to seek to ameliorate the profound suffering that occurred as a result of this tragic event," Paterson said today.

In the summer of 2006, Cicciaro and a group of other white teenagers surrounded White's house in Miller Place, seeking revenge on his son Aaron over a rape threat (which later turned out to be a false claim by a young woman). White, who is African-American, described the confrontation as a "lynch mob." White brought out a gun to intimidate the group, which he said accidentally discharged, killing Cicciaro. The trial was marked by racial tensions and threats against White, which Paterson commented upon by commuting—not pardoning—White.

White was ecstatic to be out of prison, telling Newsday he felt "blessed," and "Yes, I'm definitely glad to be home with my family for Christmas, and I hope everyone has a pleasant and happy holiday." But Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota ripped into Paterson for his disregard for the victim's family: "I strongly believe the governor should have had the decency and the compassion to at least contact the victim's family to allow them to be heard before commuting the defendant's sentence."

The Rev. Al Sharpton praised his decision though: "We salute Gov. Paterson’s decision and hope that all families involved will move towards healing," he said. "There are no winners in this situation. The governor in my judgment showed great courage and fairness." Cicciaro's family hasn't commented today's events, but they were unhappy when White didn't get the maximum 15-year sentence in 2008: "Let's see what happens when Aaron White gets shot! Let's see what the laws are then!" Daniel Cicciaro Sr. shouted during sentencing.