Man convicted for setting girlfriend on fire sentenced to 25 years

Jan 3, 2020

Jonathon White has been sentenced to the maximum 25 years in prison for the assault and attempted murder of his former girlfriend Jessica Cameron, whom he doused with gasoline and set on fire outside a City of Tonawanda Tim Horton's restaurant in December 2018.

State Supreme Court Justice Mark Montour, before delivering the sentence, measured 78 seconds. That, it was recalled, was the amount of time Cameron was on fire the night of the attack. He also admitted feeling emotion when spotting a woman holding a "Justice for Jessica" sign outside the courthouse on the day White was convicted.

Jessica Cameron speaks following the sentencing Friday of her ex-boyfriend, Jonathon White, who will serve 25 years in prison for attempted murder. Cameron was doused with fuel and set on fire at her workplace in December 2018. Listening behind her are Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and the prosecution team which tried the case.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"I don't believe there's a sentence the court could impose that will ever truly give Jessica the justice she deserves," Judge Montour said. "But today, I will give Jessica justice within the bounds of the law."

Cameron, in court Friday morning, spoke of the agony she endured being set on fire, her long rehabilitation process and having to relearn basic functions such as drinking, walking and even speaking.

"I have been unable to work since December 17, 2018 and don't expect to be able to for a very long time, if ever again," she said.

After spending approximately a month in a medically-induced coma, Cameron required four months of treatment at Erie County Medical Center, including a dozen surgeries, the amputation of fingers and a tracheotomy.

She also spoke of the heartbreak of her young children not understanding why they and their "dada" will not be going home together again. She again addressed her children at a news conference hosted by Erie County District Attorney John Flynn following the sentencing.

"What upsets me is the time I lost with my children that I could never get back," she said. "My children will not only not grow up with their father but, one day, have to learn what he did."

White's attorney, Joseph Terranova, informed the court he and his client will file an appeal. Both insise and outside the courtroom, he stated that while the "how" of the attack is known, the "why" remains a mystery.

"We know how it happened and we have his explanation as to why, but obviously the jury didn't accept that," he said. "As I stated here today, I don't know why it happened. But it did."

White also spoke in court. While saying he felt bad for Cameron's injuries, he stated in his words that "the whole situation has been portrayed as something very different." He apologized to Cameron but then insisted he is "not guilty of the crimes I've been accused of." 

White attempted to argue during his trial proceedings that he was attempting suicide on the night of the attack. The defense also attempted unsuccessfully to throw out the case with the claim that Cameron's burns were self-inflicted.

"Mr. White, you told your story to the jury, what you thought happened on December 17, 2018, that you intended to kill yourself. The jury believe your account, and today I don't believe it, either."

An order of protection for Cameron and her children was issued through 2051. That order includes the prevention of any third-party contacts on White's behalf.