White found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in Schellenger stabbing

Kristen Johanson
October 17, 2019 - 1:36 pm
Michael White walking out of court.

Kristen Johanson/KYW Newsradio

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UPDATED: 4:40 p.m. 

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Michael White has been found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal stabbing of Sean Schellenger.

Dressed in a grey suit, the 22-year-old left the courthouse convicted of only tampering with evidence because prosecutors say he tossed the knife used in the stabbing of Sean Schellenger, but he was acquitted on voluntary manslaughter, possession of an instrument in a crime and obstruction of justice.

White was accused of fatally stabbing real estate developer Sean Schellenger at 17th and Chancellor streets near Rittenhouse Square in July 2018.

The jury, which comprised mostly minorities, was tasked with deciding whether White intended to do serious bodily harm when he killed Schellenger, or if he acted in self-defense. 

Prosecutors said he intentionally plunged the blade into the victim's back, breaking bones and tearing muscles, but the defense says he did it in self-defense after Schellenger "bull rushed" White. 

But prosecutors said White brought a knife to a traffic dispute that wasn't his, and he had the responsibility to retreat or leave the scene, not stab Schellenger. 

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After the verdict was read, there was a sigh of relief from White's side, and some clasped their hands together.

But Linda Schellenger, the victim's mother, stood up in the middle of the courtroom and addressed Judge Bronson.  

"I would like (District Attorney) Larry Krasner arrested, the district attorney arrested, for obstruction of justice and withholding evidence," she said, adding that he "has blood on his hands." 

She says that she is "now going to be serving a life sentence." She was then removed from the courtroom, as well as the victim's father, who escorted her out, supporting her even though the two are divorced. 

The Schellenger family was told the Friday before trial that charges against White would be reduced from third-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter.

"He is condescending. He screamed at me, screamed at me, when I said to him ‘Sir, I am just asking you to leave the third-degree charges, manslaughter is already there,' just let a jury decide," she said. 

White’s mother looked jolted and was emotional as she left court.

"I am thankful, I am happy," she said. 

She added that she's praying for the victim’s family.

A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office would not return KYW Newsradio's request for comments that he lied to the Schellenger family or yelled at them, but in a statement, the DA's office said "Simply put, we followed the facts and the law in seeking justice. And we respect the verdict of the jury in this factually and legally complex case." 

Krasner added, "My heart goes out to family and friends of Sean Schellenger, whose pain and trauma are evident even today, and to everyone else who has been affected by this tragedy."

White will be sentenced in December.