Attorney General Coleman Urges Sixth Circuit to Uphold Sentence of Kentucky’s Longest-Imprisoned Death-Row Inmate


FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 27, 2024)Attorney General Russell Coleman released the following statement after Assistant Solicitor General Elizabeth Hedges encouraged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to uphold the sentence of Karu Gene White for the brutal murders of three elderly shopkeepers in Breathitt County in 1979:

“Karu Gene White committed these horrific murders when I was only three years old. For 40-plus years, the families of the victims have been forced to wait for justice, enduring unacceptable delays and frustrating appeals. It’s far past time for their waiting to be over.

“Today, the Office of the Attorney General took the next step to deliver justice. We are asking the Court to respect the jury’s verdict, deny this last-ditch appeal and clear the way for lawful punishment.”


In 1980, Karu White was convicted for the brutal killings of Charlie Gross, 75, his wife Lula Gross, 74, and Sam Chaney, 79. White was sentenced to death and has spent 44 years awaiting punishment—longer than any other Kentucky inmate.

In March 2024, Attorney General Coleman filed a motion with the Franklin Circuit Court to end a nearly 15-year ban on the lawful imposition of the death penalty in Kentucky. His filing followed the publication of amended regulations from Governor Andy Beshear’s Administration that brought the Commonwealth into full compliance with the court’s 2010 ruling.

In May, the Franklin Circuit Court declined to lift the injunction, and Attorney General Coleman quickly announced his intent to appeal the order. The appeal remains pending.

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