White sentenced to 50 years for death of infant daughter

Dan Mika Special to the

A Nevada man who pleaded guilty to smothering his infant daughter with a pillow in January was sentenced to 50 years in prison Monday afternoon.

Calvin Curtis White, 30, received the sentence in Story County District Court, flanked by family on one side and a group of people wearing lilac shirts bearing the name of his deceased child, Selena White.

He must serve a minimum of 15 years before becoming eligible for parole with time served, and must pay restitution and court costs.

White was arrested Feb. 2 after being released from a Des Moines hospital, where he was treated for injuries he received when he threw himself in front of a train in Nevada after realizing what he had done. According to victim impact statements, White was under the influence of methamphetamine that night.

The child’s mother and Calvin White’s wife, Melisa White, called emergency responders to the home, saying her child wasn’t breathing. She died shortly after officers arrived.

According to court documents, Calvin White admitted to suffocating the child by putting pillows over her to “prevent hearing cry.” He pleaded guilty to children endangerment causing death earlier this year.

In her victim impact statement, Melisa White called Calvin a monster as she recounted the night of her daughter’s death.

“All she deserved was our love and our care. You were supposed to be her protector, and you failed her. You destroyed your own soul, and I cannot believe or think that you deserve any form of a free life,” she said.

She vowed to divorce him while he was in prison, and to raise their son to be nothing like his father.

“He is alive and thriving. He is my world, and my only reason for living. He survived you, and I am grateful to God for that,” she said. “You sit here alive today, to suffer for the rest of your life.”

Melisa White decried her husband’s plea deal, saying his record of abuse towards children warrants a life sentence, and also claimed that he used his drug addiction to receive a more favorable deal.

A victim advocate read statements from Selena’s grandparents, who both said they feared retaliation from Calvin White’s family and claimed they had ties to gangs.

In her statement, Selena’s grandfather Fernando Saldana said he feared for his family if Calvin White is ever released.

“He’s a brainwasher, a monster, a total psycho. He will kill again,” the victim advocate read.

Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said the office has no evidence that Calvin White or his family have gang ties.

Speaking before his sentencing, White apologized for his actions and the harm he did to his family.

“When I realized what happened, I threw myself in front of a train knowing there was nothing I can do to bring Selena back,” he said. “I just want everyone to know I’m really sorry.”

Reynolds said Calvin White’s mandatory minimum sentence was low because he was considered a low risk by a state Department of Corrections risk assessment. Her office did not pursue a first-degree murder charge because it could not prove premeditation beyond a reasonable doubt, she said.

She said her office will be at every parole hearing White may receive to oppose his early release.

“I would request that everyone who’s concerned about this case reach out to the Board of Parole along with me, and let’s ensure that Mr. White serves the entirety of his sentence,” she said.