White­head sis­ter pleads guilty

‘Tragedy of epic pro­por­tions’

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - Dar­rell Everidge/The Covington News STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­news.com

Tas­miyah White­head, one of the young twin sis­ters charged with the bloody 2010 killing of their mother in Cony­ers, pleaded guilty today to vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and other charges.

Call­ing the killing of Jarmecca “Nikki” White­head a “tragedy of epic pro­por­tions,” Rock­dale County Chief Su­pe­rior Court Judge David Ir­win sen­tenced Tas­miyah to 30 years in prison.

Tas­miyah ad­mit­ted in her con­fes­sion to join­ing her twin sis­ter Jas­miyah in a fight with Nikki that left their mother stabbed to death with a steak knife. The twins, now 20 years old, were 16 at the time of Nikki’s death. Jas­miyah faces a trial set to be­gin March 17.

Clad in chains and an or­ange prison jump­suit, Tas­miyah fre­quently kept her head bowed, a solemn ex­pres­sion on her face. A star shape was shaved into her hair on the back of her head. Tas­miyah did not speak ex­cept to an­swer yes-or-no ques­tions about her plea. “Yes, sir,” she re­sponded when asked if she was plead­ing guilty.

Lynda White­head, Nikki’s mother, was the only fam­ily mem­ber to speak to the court.

“I would just like to say

today, I’m a bro­ken mother and a bro­ken grand­mother,” she said. “I love my daugh­ter. I love my grand­daugh­ters. There are no win­ners here.”

“I agree with you,” Ir­win replied qui­etly.

“If you do wrong in this world, there are con­se­quences,” Lynda White­head added. “Un­for­tu­nately, my grand­daugh­ters never learned right and wrong.”

Rock­dale County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Richard Read re­vealed many new de­tails about the crime, de­scrib­ing the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Tas­miyah’s new con­fes­sion step-by-step. The tale fea­tured re­peated vi­o­lent ar­gu­ments that ended in a bru­tal fight on Jan. 13, 2010, when Nikki’s body was found in the bath­tub of her home at 2020 Ap­paloosa Way, Cony­ers. Read re­vealed that Nikki bit Tas­miyah in the com­bat and at one point ran to a neigh­bor’s house for help, leav­ing blood on the wall, be­fore re­turn­ing home to her death.

“This is a fam­ily that thrives in chaos,” Read quoted a coun­selor as say­ing af­ter pre­vi­ous at­tempts to defuse con­stant ar­gu­ments and vi­o­lence.

“Tragedy of epic pro­por­tions. I never knew what that meant un­til today,” Judge Ir­win said to Tas­miyah. He called her guilty plea a “rea­son­able res­o­lu­tion to a great tragedy.”

Tas­miyah orig­i­nally faced a mur­der charge, but the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice agreed to ac­cept her plea to lesser charges. Ir­win sen­tenced her to 20 years in prison for vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter; five years for fal­si­fi­ca­tion in govern­ment mat­ters; and five years for pos­ses­sion of a knife in com­mis­sion of a crime. All are the max­i­mum sen­tences, and Tas­miyah must serve them con­sec­u­tively, mean­ing she will be in prison for the long­est pos­si­ble time. Ir­win gave her credit for her time in jail await­ing trial.

“The way we show re­morse is how you live each day,” Ir­win told Tas­miyah be­fore bailiffs led her away. “I wish you the best of luck.”

Fam­ily re­sponses

Fam­ily mem­bers, friends and re­porters packed the small court­room.

“It’s ac­cept­able. It’s some­thing I’ve got to live with,” Lynda White­head tear­fully said to The News im­me­di­ately af­ter Tas­miyah was sen­tenced.

Lynda White­head said she knew the twins were in­creas­ingly out of con­trol, but never saw vi­o­lence and never feared them.

“I didn’t think they would be vi­o­lent ... I [had] never seen them vi­o­lent with their mom. They were lov­ing girls,” she said. “Nikki was a lov­ing per­son. She didn’t ar­gue with peo­ple,” she said. “She al­ways brought peo­ple to­gether.”

She ac­cused the twin’s great-grand­mother, Della Fra­zier, who for years had cus­tody of them, of teach­ing them to dis­obey their mother. “I didn’t want to go over there. I’d be in jail,” she said.

In her fi­nal days, Nikki feared her daugh­ters, Lynda White­head said. “She was talk­ing to me on the phone like she was talk­ing to po­lice,” adding that, “Jas was very ugly” in her be­hav­ior.

“She couldn’t be a jailer,” Lynda White­head said of Nikki. “There was no­body to pro­tect her from her chil­dren in her own house.”

The crime

“I think to un­der­stand this case, you have to un­der­stand the back­ground,” Dis­trict At­tor­ney Read told the court.

He de­scribed the twins be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dis­or­derly as their mother and great-grand­mother, Della Fra­zier, traded cus­tody of them.

Well-be­haved and get­ting good grades early in life, the girls ran into prob­lems around age 13, when Nikki moved them away from Fra­zier to Cony­ers, where Nikki shared a house with her trucker boyfriend, Robert Head. Nikki be­lieved the girls were sex­u­ally ac­tive and us­ing mar­i­juana, among other prob­lems.

“The girls, on the other hand, were re­sent­ful of their mother’s at­ti­tude to them,” Read said, es­pe­cially be­cause she drank and used mar­i­juana her­self.

At one point, one of the twins claimed to have been raped, and Nikki did not be­lieve her, Read said.

Mean­while, Fra­zier crit­i­cized Nikki’s life­style, while Nikki saw Fra­zier as in­ter­fer­ing with rais­ing her chil­dren for “fi­nan­cially mo­ti­vated” rea­sons.

On June 28, 2008, Nikki called Cony­ers po­lice, ac­cus­ing the twins of at­tack­ing her. Min­utes af­ter of­fi­cers calmed the sit­u­a­tion down, Nikki ran out of the house to their po­lice car, say­ing the girls at­tacked her again.

Of­fi­cers saw that Nikki “had scratches and she had red marks she had not had three min­utes be­fore,” Read said. They found marks on the girls as well. Po­lice ar­rested the twins, and a Ju­ve­nile Court judge ruled them “un­govern­able.” He placed them in Fra­zier’s cus­tody and or­dered the whole fam­ily to coun­sel­ing.

“Liv­ing with the great-grand­mother has sim­ply swapped one set of prob­lems for an­other,” Read said.

Lynda White­head re­acts af­ter her grandaugh­ter pleaded guilty to man­slaugh­ter in the death of her mother, and Lynda’s daugh­ter, Nikki, in 2010.

Dar­rell Everidge/The Covington News

Tas­miyah White­head pleaded guilty Thurs­day to vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter in her mother’s death in 2010.

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