Gainey cops plea in girlfriend’s death

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2005

Barry Gainey got within a signature of getting away with involuntary manslaughter.

Last Oct. 18, an ambulance was called to the Lee Street residence Gainey shared with his girlfriend, Bridget Charlene White. On the way to Obici Hospital, White went into cardiac arrest, and could not be revived.

The mother of a young boy, White suffered from cirrhosis and a degenerative muscular disease, which the emergency room doctors believed had caused her death.

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Before her family physician could sign the death certificate, however, the Suffolk News-Herald started asking around the neighborhood. When some of White’s neighbors expressed the belief that her death might not have been accidental (police had been called to the home amid reports of a domestic disturbance on the evening of Oct. 16), a News-Herald reporter contacted authorities, who began to investigate.

As a result, when her family physician was asked to sign her death certificate, he refused, and the medical examiner’s office in Norfolk performed an autopsy.

That’s when the truth came out; rather than her illnesses, White had suffered a blow to the left side of her rib cage, which had cracked a rib, in turn puncturing her spleen.

A few days after the incident, Gainey was questioned by police, and told them that he had struck White in the previous January, prosecutor Will Jamerson said in Suffolk Circuit Court Wednesday. But on Oct. 28, he was requestioned, and admitted that he had struck White at around midnight Oct. 16 (when police were called, he’d been made to leave, and returned), causing her to fall against a pull-out sofa.

White, forced to walk with a crutch because of her illnesses, vomited several times during the next day, Jamerson said, before calling the ambulance that night.

By then, it was too late.

Gainey was arrested Oct. 28 and arraigned on first-degree murder charges Feb. 3. A week before he was to begin trial, he pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter Wednesday.

&uot;Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty of involuntary manslaughter?&uot; asked Judge Westbrook Parker.

&uot;Yes sir, I am,&uot; Gainey said quietly, looking downward.

He faces between one and 10 years in jail when he is sentenced Oct. 13.