PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A deadly stabbing case is now in the hands of a jury. Earlier Wednesday, both the defense and prosecution in the Michael White trial gave their closing arguments.
White, an Uber Eats bicyclist, is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal stabbing of Sean Schellenger in Rittenhouse Square last year.
White, 22, claimed on the stand Tuesday that Schellenger would “beat the black off” of him when they got into a fight during a traffic jam at 17th and Chancellor Streets in July 2018.
Witnesses said Schellenger bull rushed White and swung him around in the air. That’s when, White said, he used a large knife to stab Schellenger in the back.
The two fell to the ground and White took off.
Schellenger died at the scene. He had a blood-alcohol level of .199, which is beyond twice the legal limit, and traces of cocaine were found in his system, according to the medical examiner.
White’s attorney, Keir Bradford-Grey, said in closing arguments that White stabbed Schellenger in self-defense.
“Michael White should be found not guilty. He was attacked by someone who said he would beat the black out of you,” Bradford-Grey said. “This case has many undertones. Whether or not Mr. (Sean) Schellenger was racist, it’s not what we’re here to prove.”
Prosecutors addressed the undertones of racism during their closing arguments.
“Not only did they [Schellenger family] lose their child, they’ve had to sit through this trial and listen to victim bashing. We knew that was coming. We knew that was what he [White] was going to say. The only time you heard race come up in this case was after he [White] came up with how he would frame this, after he shoved a knife into this man’s back.”
BREAKING: Jury in Michael White trial has signaled they have a question; White is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 killing of Sean Schellenger. Jury has been deliberating for 2.5 hours. @CBSPhilly
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) October 16, 2019
During deliberations, the jury asked for the definition of the three elements that make up the charge of voluntary manslaughter.
The jury has been released for the day and will return Thursday morning to resume deliberations.
White faces 20 years in prison if a jury convicts him.