Court watchers have been wondering for weeks if the wife of an off-duty officer who shot a woman and her young son in Oceanside during an apparent road rage incident would take the stand at his trial.
Frank White, 29, faces several weapons charges in connection to an incident in which Rachel Silva and her son were shot on March 15, 2008, in a parking lot in Oceanside.
On Tuesday, White's wife, Jacquellyn, began testifying.
"You see that car coming back at the same time that you know your husband is preparing to get out of the car because you've just told him, 'You're in park. You can get out now.' What did you think was going to happen?" her husband's attorney asked White as she quietly wept.
"I thought they were going to kill him, that he was going to be squished between the door and the car," White told the court.
White said she was very frightened during the incident.
"Just not knowing who was in that car ... I mean, we don't live in the greatest neighborhood and stuff like that, but it was just very scary," White testified. "It was terrifying, and to think that somebody would want to hurt us? I've just never been in a situation like that, and it was very, very scary and terrifying. And they wouldn't leave us alone, and it seemed like they were back there forever"
"How did it make you feel when your husband told you to call the police?" the off-duty officer's attorney asked White.
"I think just as an officer's wife it's not anything you want to experience, because he is the police, and I know that if he needed other officers there that it's not a good situation," White said. "It was very scary."
The defense played a tape of the call she made to 911 on the day of the shooting. On the tape, she can be heard saying that the cars were so close together that you couldn't even open the door.
White told the police dispatcher that her husband was an off-duty officer dressed in street clothes with his gun drawn. She told the court that she had no recollection of him actually drawing the gun and that she didn't see what he did once it was drawn. She said that she struggled both then and now trying to remember details about what happened.
"I was still scared because she was revving her engine really loud, and I thought she was going to come after him -- Franklin," White told the court. "I was scared for my own safety, too. I believed they were going to kill us. Didn't know what they were going to do next -- I was terrified."
White described for the court what she remembered about Silva that day.
"She was screaming, screaming, and I couldn't make out what she was saying," White said. "She was enraged the entire time."
White said that she didn't see Silva's son in the car and that she learned about the child when Frank told her about him. White's attorney asked her how many times she looked into the area the boy was sitting in insde the car, and White said she looked three times and just saw the driver and no one else.
Asked if White had done anything illegal, she said she didn't think so.
"I did ask to call my POA [police officers association representative] ... before I answered the Oceanside police officers' questions," White testified. "Just for moral support and to ask for info about being involved in an off-duty officer shooting. I had heard them on the radio but had never actually been involved and wanted to speak with a rep."
Prosecutors do not dispute Silva was the aggressor, reported the North County Times, that she following White and threatening to ram his car after a perceived driving slight. Frank White testified earlier that Silva was screaming, honking, screeching her tires as she followed him in a strange pursuit through the Lowe's parking lot in Oceanside on Old Grove Road, just south of state Route 76.
White faces up to nine years in prison if he is convicted.