A Rock Island man who escaped from jail before his trial in 2021 is fighting to overturn his conviction and sentence in that trial. 

Visiting Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera from Chelan County presided over a more than four-hour hearing in Douglas County Superior Court Tuesday on the claim of 55-year-old Christian Edward White that his trial in a Waterville courtroom was closed to the public. 

Testimony from 2021 Trial Judge Brian Huber was heard at the Tuesday hearing, as was that of Teresa Lancaster, White's girlfriend, who claimed she was denied access to the trial. 

White initially filed a personal restraint petition, claiming his trial was not open in June of 2022. 

An appeals court in Spokane was not convinced by the state's claim that the trial was open and set a deadline of next Friday, March 31 for a hearing on White's claim. 

White was originally convicted of Hit and Run and Attempting to Elude during two trials in July and September of 2021. 

Both trials were held at Douglas County Fairgrounds because of COVID-19 restrictions at the time. White claims Lancaster was denied entry to both trials, and that the doors were closed. 

The court in Douglas County has until next Friday to enter findings in the case. Court records indicate White's claim is still open in the appeals court in Spokane. 

KPQ reported that White had outside help when he escaped from the Okanogan County Jail in January of 2021 with Kristopher Whittman. 

White was caught eight days later along with Lancaster in the Portland area.  

White was sentenced to five years for the escape. Lancaster was charged with criminal conspiracy for helping him escape and was sentenced to 51 days under a plea agreement.  

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