20/20 Friday: Teenage Tragedy

An argument between two boys turned ugly in a Long Island suburb.

ByABC News
March 31, 2008, 4:15 PM

April 1, 2008 — -- So many things could have changed what happened that night. So many people could have done something differently. But in the course of a few terrible minutes, it all came together: teenage jealousy, race, too much alcohol and a single gunshot. And when it was over, a white teenager lay dead and a black family man stood accused of murder.

It wasn't supposed to happen there, not in Miller Place, a peaceful suburb on Long Island.

John White moved his family to the seaside town in 2004, his reward for decades of punishing work as a laborer for a paving company in New York City.

White's son Aaron entered Miller Place's high school in his senior year. He was just one of four black students, but he made a big effort to become part of his class. Aaron was a good student who seemed to mingle well with the other kids, often joining casual nighttime get-togethers where car-obsessed teens showcased their rides.

Few at those get-togethers were more passionate about cars than Daniel Cicciaro. Known to everyone as Dano, he'd been a regular at his father's garage since he was 8 years old. His mother, Joanne, said, "He was always around cars. He had a '68 Camaro. He bought it with his Dad, and they were totally rebuilding the whole thing. He loved to do things that he would have the wind in his face."

Dano's father, Dano Sr., says his son planned to follow in his footsteps, taking over the family garage.

Aaron and Dano were two kids with promising futures, but they were about to be set on a tragic collision course. In December 2005, two friends of Aaron's -- posing as Aaron in an Internet chat room -- made sexual threats against a girl named Jennifer Martin, who was only 15 years old.

"It said something along the lines of, 'let's get to Jennifer Martin's house and rape her,'" she said. "It scared me a lot. It terrified me."

Though he never said anything directly to her about the matter, Aaron told several people, including Jennifer's boyfriend, that he'd never written anything about her.