What to Know
- Protesters gathered outside of the office of Philly DA Larry Krasner Tuesday, accusing him of mistreating the families of murder victims.
- The protest comes after a judge accepted Krasner’s motion to drop a murder charge against Michael White.
- The 22-year-old White is accused of killing Sean Schellenger. Lawyers argued that White acted in self-defense.
Protesters gathered outside the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Tuesday, accusing him of mistreating the families of murder victims.
Rosalind Pichardo, creator of Operation Save Our City, an organization that works with the families of victims of violent crimes, led the demonstration outside District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office in Center City around 5 p.m.
“When Larry lies, what do we do?” Pichardo asked the crowd of about 75 people.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
“Stand up and fight back,” the crowd replied.
Pichardo, who said both her boyfriend and brother were murdered, called for Krasner to be removed from office.
“My brother’s case, Alexander Martinez, is not solved,” Pichardo said. “And I pray to God that his case is not solved while he’s in office. You know why? Because he will not serve time. He will be in jail for ten years before coming out to murder another person. Enough is enough. He needs to be voted the f--- out!”
The protest occurred a day after a Philadelphia judge accepted Krasner’s motion to drop a murder charge against Michael White, a college student accused of stabbing and killing real estate developer Sean Schellenger during a confrontation in Rittenhouse Square in July of 2018.
Krasner filed the motion Friday to drop 3rd degree murder charges against White. The 22-year-old remains charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Schellenger along S. 17th Street near the Warwick Hotel.
Voluntary manslaughter could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years, at least half the sentence for third-degree murder. The added obstruction and tampering counts each carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
White’s lawyers argued that their client was acting in self-defense when he allegedly stabbed Schellenger to death. A witness said White, who was working as a delivery man that night, observed Schellenger arguing with another driver near Chancellor and 17th streets and then intervened.
Witnesses said White and Schellenger got into an argument which escalated into a fight. Schellenger lowered his head and shoulders and grabbed White by the waist, lifting his feet off the ground, according to a witness. The witness said White then took out a 6-inch black steel knife from his backpack and then Schellenger tackled him to the ground. The knife then came down into Schellenger’s back, according to the witness.
The witness said White looked “shocked” as he stood over Schellenger, who later died from injuries to his back ribs, left lung and aorta. White later turned himself in and cooperated with the district attorney’s office.
White’s attorneys claimed Schellenger made disparaging racial remarks during the confrontation. Krasner’s filing Friday seemed to reference those alleged remarks, saying that "self-defense or acting under a sudden or intense passion from serious provocation" are defenses that White could have used against the third-degree murder charge.
A toxicology report later determined that Schellenger had a blood alcohol level of .199, more than double the legal limit to drive, and tested positive for cocaine.
Schellenger’s mother, Linda Schellenger, attended Tuesday’s protest and was critical of Krasner when speaking with NBC10.
“Every single day charges are being reduced,” she said. “Multiple moms. I’m sitting in these groups of moms bonded by grief. Mothers are suffering because they’ve lost their children and now they’re suffering at the hands of Larry Krasner. It’s enough.”
Schellenger said she wanted to bring awareness to “all of the mothers suffering” in Philadelphia.
“That isn’t Larry Krasner’s fault,” she said. “But what he can do is act like a prosecutor. We have a public defender’s office. They do a very good job of doing what they do and everyone deserves a fair trial. But the victims and our dead children deserve a fair trial as well.”
A spokesperson for Krasner responded to Tuesday’s protest in a statement sent to NBC10.
“Before being elected the city’s chief prosecutor, District Attorney Krasner represented dozens of protesters who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” the spokesperson wrote. “He fully appreciates the right of all Philadelphians to disagree, dissent, and protest peacefully.”