October 21, 2016
State Attorney Bill Eddins announced that on October 20, 2016, Gary Donovan White, age 50, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Jennie Kinsey to 45 years in state prison. White was previously convicted by an Escambia County Jury on September 10, 2016 for Attempted First Degree Premeditated Murder with a Weapon and Burglary of a Dwelling with a Battery.
On June 11, 2015 officers with the Pensacola Police Department responded to a residence in the 1700 block of West Intendencia Street around 4:20 a.m. and found the victim – Rhoni Townley, 45 – outside with a belt wrapped around her neck. Her neck was bruised and her head and shirt were covered in blood.
Officers found a large amount of blood inside the house, and evidence that there had been a violent struggle in the bathroom.
Townley told police that White, whom she said she’d known for several months as a friend, knocked on her door around 3 a.m. She said while they were in the living room he asked if she had any food. He then went into the kitchen and ate while she went to the bathroom.
Townley said when she exited the bathroom, White was standing at the door and struck her in the head several times with a chunk of concrete she used to keep the door open. She said she fell back against the tub and White began choking her. During the struggle, she passed out and when she awoke, she found the belt around her neck.
The investigation and arrest were conducted by the Pensacola Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Cassandra Andres.