WALTON COUNTY, GA (Jan. 19, 2023) The Walton County District Attorney’s office reported Wednesday that the Supreme Court of Georgia has unanimously affirmed the conviction and life without parole sentence of Justin Whited in the 2016 death of his 7-week of daughter.
The saga began on April 23, 2016 when officers from Monroe Police Department responded to the Whited residence in response to reports of a 2-month old baby being unresponsive. The infant, who became known as “Baby Dinah,” was transported to Egelston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, where she remained on life support for three months before being removed on Aug. 16, 2016. By that time, her father, Justin Whited, was already in jail facing charges of aggravated battery and cruelty to children and her mother was charged with cruelty to children. Although incarcerated at the time, they were allowed to say goodbye to their daughter at the hospital prior to her passing. The charges were then upgraded to felony murder.
Whited was convicted on May 17, 2018 on two counts of felony murder, one count of cruelty to children and one count of aggravated battery in the death of Dinah Paige Whited. He was sentenced a week later to life without the possibility of parole on the two murder charges plus 20 years for the cruelty to children and aggravated battery charges. His wife, Jamie, pleaded guilty to second-degree cruelty to children the following year, less than a week before she was due to go on trial. The state said it could not prove that she was there when her husband caused the injuries that led to their daughter’s death, but she was negligent. She was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in state prison with 3 1/2 years credit for time served.
According to Walton County District Attorney’s office, in his appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, Whited argued that the trial court did not give a certain jury instruction and improperly allowed the jury to hear a recorded jail call regarding.
However, in its ruling upholding the lower court’s decision to uphold Whited’s sentence, the Supreme Court stated that it did not see how either of those issues would have resulted in a different outcome of the trial. With regard to whether or not Baby Dinah should be removed from life support, Whited had stated on the jail call that if he did not “pull the plug,” he could “just do five years instead of a whole life” in prison.
“The case was tried and the appeal was handled by Chief Assistant District Attorney Cliff Howard. The investigation was led by the City of Monroe Police Department with assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and their crime lab. Witnesses at trial also included DFCS personnel and doctors from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). The District Attorney’s Office was involved in the case from the night it occurred lending assistance at the crime scene and at CHOA,” Walton County District Attorney Randy McGinley said in reporting on the outcome of the appeal. “This case shocked the community due to the young age of the victim and the awful legal fight over the fate of Dinah as she was in the hospital on life support. I am so proud of the work of the Monroe Police Department and other agencies who came together to fight and achieve justice for Dinah. I am also proud to work in such an amazing office that fights day in and day out for victims and their families. While the verdict and this appeal do not bring back Dinah, her family and the community know that justice has been served. Justin Whited will remain in prison for the rest of his life.”