PHILADELPHIA – A bicycle deliveryman accused of fatally stabbing a real estate developer on a Philadelphia street last month is now eligible for bail after prosecutors amended the charges against him Wednesday.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner agreed to amend the charges against Uber Eats bicycle deliveryman Michael White from a blanket murder charge that included first-degree murder to specific third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges in the death of 37-year-old Sean Schellenger. But it was still unclear after the short and sometimes emotional hearing how the altercation over traffic turned into a fatal physical fight.
Bail for 21-year-old White was set at $150,000 under the condition that he be kept on house arrest if released. He had not been released as of early Wednesday afternoon.
"The sadness on both sides of this room is palpable," said attorney Dan Stevenson, who represents White. "This resolution did not happen in a vacuum."
Stevenson said his client negotiated to turn himself in and voluntarily submitted to a lengthy interview with the district attorney's office, even telling them where they could find the weapon. A spokesman for White's family has alleged the stabbing was in self-defense after Schellenger, a former Penn State quarterback, tackled him during the altercation.
Krasner said his office is still investigating and that a video that captured part of the altercation played a role in the decision to amend the charges and not seek a first-degree murder conviction. First-degree murder requires evidence that the defendant intended to kill the victim.
"There is not evidence to support that," Krasner said.
He said the charges could be further amended to drop the third-degree murder count but that he does believe there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.
Several times during the hearing, Krasner spoke to Schellenger's mother, who sat in the second row with other family members.
The courtroom was overflowing with people standing in the aisles and around the edges of the room. Family members on both sides broke into tears at different points during the hearing and were quietly comforted.
White, a student at Baltimore's Morgan State University, was working for the food delivery service when he rode upon a traffic jam a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square about 11 p.m. on July 12.
Schellenger was riding in a Mercedes with two friends when he exited the vehicle after it became stuck in traffic.
It was still unclear what started the altercation between White and Schellenger or what escalated the argument to become physical. Police said White stabbed Schellenger once in the back before running from the scene, leaving his bicycle and other belongings.
White turned himself in a day later. Krasner said White told investigators they could find the weapon used on the roof of a building.
The judge lauded the two families in the case for acting with civility and urged them to continue conducting themselves appropriately. He agreed to a no contact order that prevents White from reaching out to witnesses, Schellenger's family and others.
White will be back in court for a pretrial hearing on Oct. 30.