MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. – A man fatally beat a former Soviet political prisoner at a highway rest stop Thursday after the victim declined an offer to buy his religious CDs, police said.
Brian K. White, 26, of Humble, Texas, was charged with murder, eluding police and weapons charges.
Authorities said White stopped at a rest stop along the New Jersey Turnpike and approached Michail J. Makarenko, 75, who was traveling from his home in Hillsboro, Va., to New York to see friends, and asked him if he wanted to buy religious CDs.
When the man declined, authorities said witnesses told them, White picked up a rock and started striking the man in the head before getting back in his car, a Chevrolet Camaro, heading toward New York City.
Makarenko, who spent a total of 11 years in prison for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda — he owned an art gallery that exhibited works of banned artists — died before a medical helicopter could reach him, said his interpreter and secretary, Gregory Burnside.
Burnside said people who knew Makarenko believe “he died a martyr’s death — he was stoned.”
Troopers caught up with the suspect near Trenton about 15 minutes later and chased him for about an hour before he exited onto another Interstate 80, pulled over to the side of the road in Teaneck, jumped out of his vehicle and charged at them.
White was quickly subdued and was not severely injured, police said.
“He possibly is delusional,” said State Police Maj. Mary Beth Mahlmann.
State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said White told troopers he was motivated by religion, but Jones did not elaborate about the nature of his beliefs.
White’s mother, Laverne Cavitt, and his sister, Marsha White, confirmed that Brian White has a MySpace page featuring his music.
His picture is also posted on the page and resembles a driver’s license photo released by police on Thursday.
In an undated writing on his MySpace page, White discussed his beliefs. He wrote that his latest recording, “The Book of Brian” would one day become part of the “next century Bible.”
According to one passage about the hip-hop CD: “The Book contains Chapters and in them is True Secrets straight from God. Aliens are among us, the secret scrolls is real, We have a secret city the Gov has made, and the cloning of men is now and real. God is very angry with us, and he will soon change his face.”
His mother said in a telephone interview that she did not think her son could have killed someone.
“He’s a Christian guy. He made lots of Christian CDs. My son has never been involved in anything…” she said, her voice trailing off into sobs.
White, a DJ who has performed under several names including DJ Coldblooded, has been convicted twice in Texas of marijuana possession and was charged last year with driving with a suspended license, according to public records.
Thursday, a judge set bail at $750,000 and ordered White to have a psychiatric exam before he can be released from jail. He is expected to appear in a court hearing Friday.