At his trial in 1979 it was revealed that White also planned to assassinate Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and fellow supervisor and attorney Carol Ruth Silver, but couldn’t find them.
During a videotaped confession he came across as a pathetic man who was barely able to explain why he had assassinated his colleagues. His defence lawyer Douglas R. Schmidt claimed he had acted in the heat of passion and not out of malice. He made a plea of “diminished capacity”, due to extreme stress in White’s home life and depression. Whilst describing White’s emotional state, psychiatrist Martin Blinder, one of five defence therapists, explained that in the days leading up to the shootings White grew slovenly and abandoned his usual healthy diet and indulged in a diet of sugary junk food like Coke, doughnuts and Twinkies instead.
Newspapers across the country picked up on a great headline and today the term “Twinkie defence” is a derogatory label implying that a criminal defence is artificial or absurd.
The jury found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder, despite his obvious pre-meditation. White was sentenced to a maximum of seven years and eight months in prison and never expressed public remorse for the murders.