Teresa Walker was near tears Friday as she faced the man who killed her brother.
“You participated in a premeditated murder on my brother,” she told Trevor White, 20, who pleaded guilty to the August 2015 slaying of Eric Zaffer in Brighton Township. “You and two other cowards killed my only sibling. You took away part of my heart and turned Eric’s friends’ and families’ lives upside down through your selfish acts.”
Zaffer’s body was found among the burnt remains of the family’s home. He had been shot to death through a window by 19-year-old Bishop Howard before White and 23-year-old Ryan Crews burglarized the house.
White will serve 18 years to life in prison for his role.
Lorain County Court of Common Pleas judge John Miraldi accepted a guilty plea to charges of murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated arson, tampering with evidence, breaking and entering, abuse of a corpse, involuntary manslaughter, and engaging in corrupt activity.
White addressed his victim’s family before the ruling was handed down.
“I would like to apologize to the Zaffer family,” he said. “I did not go to the Zaffer farm to commit a murder crime. I might have went to get marijuana plants, but I did not want any of that to happen that night. I am seeking the Lord. I’d like to see your guys’ forgiveness but I understand you’ll never forgive me.”
The maximum sentence possible in White’s case was 39 years to life. Howard avoided a death sentence but received life without parole while Crews will serve 22 years to life.
Walker touched on repercussions her family continues to deal with as a result of the crime.
“That farm was our happy place,” she told White. “My father bred and kept Arabian horses there. After the fire, there was no longer electric or water service available there. Not only did you take my brother, which there is no price tag on, but my family financially lost a legacy my dad worked so hard to keep. We had to give those horses away for free. We’re not talking thousands of dollars. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Her father, Tom Zaffer, said he wants White to feel the full responsibility of the murder even if he didn’t fire the gun.
“Trevor White had my son’s blood on his shorts,” he said. “To me, that proves he helped brutalize my son after Bishop Howard shot him. He is just as guilty of this crime as he would be if he pulled the trigger himself and may have been instrumental in the actual killing.”
Eric Zaffer’s brother-in-law, Gary Walker, said he will remain vigilant in fighting any chance White may have for release.
“When I get the notice that you’re up for parole you can rest assured that I will be there,” he told White. “I will talk to the parole board and remind them off all the horrific things you did to Eric. I will make sure they keep you locked up for as long as possible. As long as I have breath in my body, I will speak out against your release. If I am unable to do that, my children will speak for me.”
In a separate hearing, White also pleaded guilty to five counts of forgery and one for receiving stolen property. According to prosecutors, he and a female co-defendent wrote $970 in fake checks in the name of Blanch White, Trevor White’s grandmother, in July 2015.
White received 60 months in jail for those counts, but that time will run concurrently to his murder sentencing.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Trevor White addresses the family of Eric Zaffer Jan. 27 after pleading guilty to his August 2015 murder. White will serve 18 years to life in prison for that crime as well as burning down the Zaffer family’s Brighton Township home.