What to Know
- A third-degree murder charge carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years.
- White, 21, is expected to post bond on $150,000 bail and be released to the custody of his family.
- It remains unknown what exactly triggered the alleged incident.
Two bail advocacy groups posted bail Thursday for a college student accused of stabbing and killing a Philadelphia real estate developer near Rittenhouse Square.
Philadelphia Community Bail Fund (PCBF) and The Philadelphia Bail Fund (PBF) teamed up to post $15,000 (10 percent of $150,000) needed to bail out Michael White as he awaits trial on third-degree murder charges in the July 12 stabbing death of Sean Schellenger.
White will be placed on house arrest, with electronic monitoring, once he actually leaves jail, according to conditions imposed by the court.
White, who turned 21 behind bars, was held without bail ahead of a hearing Wednesday where first-degree murder charges were downgraded. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 30, according to court records.
A third-degree murder charge carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years. Prosecutors will proceed with the voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime charges against White.
Schellenger and two friends were driving in a Mercedes-Benz when a confrontation with White occurred near 17th and Chancellor streets in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse neighborhood late on July 12, police said. White pulled a knife from his backpack and stabbed Schellenger, investigators said.
Schellenger and two friends had been drinking at a nearby bar prior to the alleged deadly confrontation, according to witnesses.
White, a student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, was making a food delivery on a bicycle at the time of the altercation, police said.
Greg Thompson, a spokesman for White's family, said he acted in self-defense and kept a knife in his backpack for protection because he delivered food late into the night. At a meeting with prosecutors last week, according to officials, White allegedly told investigators where to find the knife.
Upon learning of bail being posted, White said he was "speechless," Thompson said.
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It remains unknown what exactly triggered the alleged incident.
In a statement about posting bail, PCBF and PBF said White was given an "unaffordable" and "unconstitutional" bail based on wealth. And that White, like others facing expensive bails, should be able to be home with his family as he awaits trial.
"Bail set at $150,000 strips away the presumption of innocence, and is the equivalent of a prison sentence for someone who is unable to pay," PBF coordinator Zoe Goldberg said.
"Michael White's case demonstrates the injustice of the cash bail system, which despite recent reforms, still makes poverty a crime in Philadelphia," PBF co-founder and vice president Malik Neal said. “Every day people like Michael are stripped of their freedom without being tried simply because of their inability to pay bail. We worked to post bail for this young man to ensure he can fight his case from home instead of from a cage.”