By all appearances, Wednesday, March 19, was a day like any other in Darci’s Deli in Marble Falls.
The fresh-faced owner greeted her customers with the usual efficiency and generous smile, but there was a small, added sparkle in her large hazel eyes and another on her finger -- a wedding ring.
“It’s not exactly how I had imagined my wedding,” she said with grace.
Just the day before, in a simple civil ceremony in the library of the Llano County Jail, the former Darci Dickey had become Mrs. Darin Don White. By Friday, she knew, he would be serving his time in a Texas prison for the murder of his father.
A Minnesotan, Darci, came to Texas with her family in 1994 when her mother, Pat, and sister, Pam, moved their Tonkawood Farm equestrian operation to the Hill Country to specialize in children’s and amateur horses.
Although she had been an avid rider from the age of four and a champion in the horse show circuit, Darci had a notion to become a restaurant owner.
Darci’s Deli re-opened at 909 Third Street in Marble Falls last year, but its previous six-year run had begun with that notion in 1995. It was then, across the counter of her new deli, that she first saw the blond-haired, blue-eyed man who captured her heart.
“I just knew he was the one, from the first minute I saw him,” she said, describing a relationship that was on-again-off-again and sometimes long-distance, but never really fading.
She did not desert him after he plead guilty to the Nov. 11, 2005 murder of Charlie White, nor through the sentencing case presented before 424th District Judge Dan Mills last year. She supported him again when defense attorney Eddie Shell placed the decision, instead, before a jury in February.
On Feb. 21, Darci shared a supper with Darin at Stonewall’s. She sat with him and his family through the night and she embraced him in the courtroom following the jury’s pre-dawn decision that he would receive a sentence of 20 years. He slipped a ring of his own on her finger as a promise.
Much is made of time granted for good behavior to relieve crowding and bolster rehabilitation in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. But, without an “I do,” the couple could not have expected so much as another hug for three to five years, at best. No weddings are allowed in Texas prisons and few visits are granted to other than family.
County Judge Wayne Brascom, since taking office, had conducted a number of weddings, but never at the Law Enforcement Center.
“I didn’t even know if it was possible,” he said.
After some investigation, he learned that it was and had even been done before. The license was applied for in time for a wedding on Tuesday, visitation day at the jail.
“The judge’s secretary called me at 11:55 a.m. and said, ‘Can you be here at 1 o’clock?’,” recounted Darci. “I dashed out of the deli and, of course, it was pouring rain. Traffic was so slow. I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m going to be late!’”
She made it, however. With a guard as their witness they were married.
“Everyone was just wonderful,” said the new Mrs. White. “Now I will be able to visit him two hours on Saturdays and two hours on Sundays.”
Both Darci and her father Bill Dickey testified in support of Darin's defense of “sudden passion from adequate cause,” a finding that limits a maximum sentence to 20 years. That argument was not successful, despite all accounts of the decadent lifestyle and abusive nature of the victim.
Yet, the jury must have been moved by the three days of testimony and White’s emotion during the trial. After nine hours of deliberation, 20 years was the sentence. District Attorney Sam Oatman had argued forcefully for a “life.”
“He knows what he did was wrong,” said Darci. “He wants to pay for it. He has his Bible. He will be alright.
“I just want something good to be written about Darin, now. He is a good person.”
Darin was transferred Friday to TDCJ prison facilities in Huntsville.
“I’ve waited 13 years for him, I can wait a little longer,” said his bride.