Former city official Dan White was sentenced today to seven years and eight months in state prison for the Nov. 27 killing of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Superior Court Judge Walter F. Calcagno imposed the maximum possible sentence on the two manslaughter counts and accompanying weapons charges, White, who has already served 218 days in jail, could go free in less than five years.

White, who appeared pale and drawn, showed no emotion as the sentence was imposed. His attorney, Douglas Schmidt, said White is "remorseful and guilt-ridden. He doesn't look well, and he's physically debilitated. He's lost about 30 pounds."

Schmidt said the sentencce came as no suprise to his client. He asked Calcagno to order maximum security for the 33-year-old former policeman. Later he told reporters he didn't want White "executed" by his fellow inmates.

The courtroom was jammed with reporters and spectators. White's wife', Mary Ann, who sat with family and friends, showed no emotion as she started at her husband's back about a dozen feet away.

Outside the Hall of Justice, about 20 demonstrators marched, carrying signs that read "Dan White could get eight years for two murders. Gay people face 16 years for throwing rocks" -- a reference to charges stemming from the May 21 riots that followed the announcement of the jury's verdict.

Peter Frisch, publisher of The Advocate, the largest gay newspaper in the country, said, "'it's frightening to me that a man like Dan White could be out on the streets in five years," the Associate Press reported. White orginally faced two murder charges that could have brought the death penalty However, Schmidt convincced the jury that his client suffered "diminished capacity" and was unable to form the necessary malice to commit murder.

District Attorney Joseph Freitas Jr., under attack for his department's handling of the case, has called for a review of such defenses.

A pre-sentencing report prepared by the San Francisco Probation Department recommended that White receive the maximum sentence, although it called White a "third victim" of the crime. The report also noted that White had a "positive attitude" about his punishment and feels his family is standing by him. However, Schmidt told reporters today that he believes his client has suicidal tendencies.

White, who was elected in 1977 to the Board of Supervisors, an 11-member legislative body, was found guilty of shooting Moscone and Milk, a homosexual, after a dramatic 17-day trial highlighted by White's emotional tape-recorded confession.

White had resigned his supervisor's seat Nov. 10, complaining that the annual $9,600 salary was insufficient to support his wife and son. But five days later he changed his mind and asked Moscone to reinstate him. Just a few minutes before Moscone was to announce his decision to appoint someone else, the mayor was shot five times in his office. In his confession, White said he then ran across City Hall and shot Supervisor Milk, who had opposed his reinstatement.

White will be taken to the Vacaville Reception and Medical Center for screening before assignment to a prison. CAPTION: Picture, DAN WHITE . . . could go free in five years