JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) — A Joliet man will spend 30 years in prison for the shooting death of a man who insulted his girlfriend at a party last year.

Mickey D. Smith pleaded guilty Wednesday to the first-degree murder of Douglas L. White in a Will County courtroom, striking a deal with prosecutors who agreed to drop other charges against him. Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak handed down the sentence.

White’s parents, Thomas and Harriet White of Joliet, left the courtroom shaking their heads. Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Byers said the case against Smith had weaknesses, and the plea bargain was the safest way to seek justice for White’s death.

“I guess I have to accept it,” Harriet White said.

Police said Douglas White, 44, and Smith’s girlfriend were among those attending a small gathering June 29 at White’s girlfriend’s house in the 900 block of Mulford Lane. White apparently insulted Smith’s girlfriend to the point she left the party, but she returned with Smith, who police said shot and killed White.

Smith fled to Louisiana after the murder but was caught and returned to Illinois in November.

Nichole Pasteris, a victim’s advocate in the Will County state’s attorney’s office, said White had 14 siblings and at least five children. The prosecutors said they worked mostly with White’s brothers and sisters, who understood the risks of a trial and agreed to Wednesday’s plea deal.

“Not that it was easy,” Pasteris said.

But in the hallway outside the courtroom, Thomas White repeatedly said he wanted his son’s killer to go to prison for the rest of his life.

“No, baby,” Harriet White told her husband, “it’s over with.”

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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