CONTINUING COVERAGE: FLOODS OF 2016

Victim’s Family has Strong Words for Drake Diner Killer at Resentencing

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Nearly 24 years after Tim Burnett was gunned down in cold blood, his family is once again reliving the crime.

"This is a day that I will never forget. It is a day that changed my family's life forever," said Paulette Sandstrom, Burnett's older sister.

"Half of me died almost 24 years ago," said twin brother, Lyle Burnett.

Joseph White Jr. was sentenced to life behind bars for the 1992 murders of Burnett and Cara McGrane at the Drake Diner. He was just shy of 18 years old.

The now 40-year-old headed back to court with the chance that one day he could be released from prison. White's new sentence includes life with the possibility of parole. The resentencing comes after the U.S. and Iowa Supreme Courts have banned automatic life terms for juveniles convicted of murder.

"He will always be a cold-blooded murderer even 23 years and 8 1/2 months later," said Charlene Ostreko about the man who killed her brother.

White did not speak on his own behalf in the courtroom, but his family came to his defense. They say the man he is today isn't the same as the kid locked up more than two decades ago.

"Yes, he's ready to be let out," said White's Uncle, Gerald James Jr.

After causing problems in prison in the beginning, White has had a clear record for the last five years. During that time, his family says he's focused on getting an education.

"His mother passed over two years ago, but she always believed that this day would come that there would be hope for him," said Valerie James, White's Aunt.

White's new sentence is not a get out of prison card. What, if anything, happens next is up to the Iowa Parole Board. There's still a chance he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"It is up to Mr. White if he ever sees the outside. If he gets his act together, if he educates himself, if he stays out of trouble, he may be paroled. Someday," said defense attorney Michael Adams.

Burnett's family hopes that day never comes and left White with these parting words.

"You should have been executed and I would have done it for them for free," said Ostreko.

"You deserve nothing less than to spend the rest of your life in jail," Burnett told White.

"Joseph White, I hope you rot in hell," Sandstrom said.