UT stabbing suspect’s attorney says jailhouse interview was reckless

Kendrex White in the Travis County Jail (KPRC Photo)
Kendrex White in the Travis County Jail (KPRC Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “I pulled out my knife. My heart started beating really fast and no one moved and then I struck a table and no one acknowledged that I did that,” University of Texas stabbing suspect Kendrex White told KPRC in a video interview from the Travis County Jail.

White, 21, told KPRC he has no memory of stabbing anyone, which is also what he told police the day he was arrested. “I had a dream. It showed my face and I thought maybe it was possible I could have done it, but I didn’t remember doing it myself, if that makes any sense.”

UT stabbing suspect, Kendrex White, being arrested. (Courtesy: Ray Arredondo‏)
UT stabbing suspect, Kendrex White, being arrested on campus on May 1, 2017. (Courtesy: Ray Arredondo‏)

“I have had problems with my mind, but I didn’t think it would be to the point of interaction with someone, lethal interaction,” White, a UT junior, said. In the interview, White says he has been told he has epilepsy and schizophrenia, adding that he hears voices.

Authorities have confirmed that White was recently involuntarily committed in another city.

White is charged with the murder of 19-year-old UT freshman Harrison Brown on May 1. He is also accused of stabbing three other students.

White says he carried a knife for protection, saying he was scared every time he left his house: “I don’t want to carry a gun, I just carried a knife because I always like to say I live by the sword and die by the sword.”

“That’s why I carried one for protection. Just in case anything happens, because you never know in Austin,” he continued.

White’s attorneys Jana Ortega and Gabriella Young issued a statement Wednesday stating they along with White’s family “are greatly disheartened by the video release of a jail interview yesterday by TV station KPRC.” The attorneys say White lacks “the mental capacity to understand the purpose or nature of that interview.”

The statement goes on to say the KPRC reporter who conducted the interview was “reckless” and took advantage of  “mentally ill person.”

Full statement:

The lawyers and family of Kendrex White are greatly disheartened by the video release of a jail interview yesterday by TV station KPRC. The video was conducted by teleconference in the psychiatric ward of the Travis County Jail facility. It is unclear whether Ms. Bauer, the reporter, recorded the videoconference without the knowledge of Mr. White. Furthermore, he lacked the mental capacity to understand the purpose or nature of that interview. Mr. White was not afforded the same protections that any person suffering from mental illness should be afforded under the circumstances. This reporter’s reckless actions have now compromised the opportunity for the victims, their families, and everyone affected by this case a chance for a fair and just trial. As advocates for our community, we would like to send a strong message to Ms. Bauer and all media outlets, that taking advantage of a mentally ill person under any circumstance is unconscionable and cannot be tolerated. Our Constitution affords everyone, even those suffering from mental illness, the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, and the right to a fair trial. The lawyers have grave concerns that Ms. Bauer’s careless actions have violated the very fundamental rights we all have as citizens of the Untied States.

KXAN reached out to SafeHorns — the UT parent and citizen group about White’s comments, they said their focus is on the victims right now.

In a statement released to KXAN the group said:

“Students come to the University of Texas to learn and prepare for their futures. Many Longhorns have dreamt of being a Longhorn their entire life. We are deeply saddened that Harrison’s future and personal dreams for success have been robbed of him and cut far too short. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the Brown family, survivors and the entire Longhorn family as we continue to mourn and process this Senseless Tragedy.”

Full interview

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