D.A. Krasner handcuffed jury

The jury has spoken, and I accept it.

The verdict on Michael White, I mean, acquitted of voluntary manslaughter.

Michael White after the verdict. (Photo: NBC Philadelphia)

I accept it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

The same with O.J. Simpson, George Zimmerman and other questionable jury results. 

Our decision-by-jury process is imperfect, but better than any other.

But something is sticking in my craw about the Michael White case, a feeling that something was wrong. Maybe not with the jury, but with D.A. Larry Krasner. 

Something is fishy here. I suspect Krasner had an occupational flashback and was reliving his decades as a defense attorney who hated cops — and prosecutors. 

A year ago, when Krasner decided against charging Michael White with first-degree murder, I was with him.

Of course you remember the case: Sean Schellenger, a 37-year-old Point Breeze developer, was stabbed to death by White, 21, a food deliveryman and student during an altercation near Rittenhouse Square.

It didn’t seem like premeditated murder, and Krasner said cell phone video — now seen by jurors but not by the public — was pretty clear in ruling out first-degree.

We are going with the evidence. OK.

Then, shortly before the trial began, Krasner suddenly withdrew charges of third-degree murder, leaving only voluntary manslaughter as a main charge. Based on what evidence, I wondered. What had changed?

Linda Schellenger, the victim’s mother, was understandably outraged. Both  murder and manslaughter charges should be on the table, she said. Let the jury decide.

I agreed with the mother in a column and speculated that leaving it to the jury seemed to be exactly what Krasner wanted to avoid.

I was on to something, but missed Krasner’s slick trick because I am not a lawyer. The trick wasn’t just reducing the possible penalty for the crime. Third-degree carries a 20-40 year jail term while voluntary manslaughter is just 10-20 years. Throwing out third-degree murder was more insidious than just changing the possible sentence.

Krasner said he thought he had a better chance of getting a conviction on the voluntary manslaughter charge. The opposite is true, in the opinion of several defense attorneys, two of whom were willing to be quoted.

Third-degree murder has a relatively low bar, with no specific intent to kill being required for conviction. Voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is usually considered a “heat of passion” crime with self-defense being a reliable defense. Krasner surely knew White’s excellent legal team was going to use a self-defense tactic. He gift wrapped it for his former(?) defense colleagues.

“He didn’t want to see Michael White convicted of third-degree, the more likely outcome,” said Chuck Peruto, the veteran barrister with hundreds of trials under his belt. 

Another defense attorney, William Ciancaglini (who is the Republican candidate for mayor) said, “I think [Krasner] wanted to impose his decision on this case.”

Neither wished to comment on the verdict itself because they had not sat through the trial.

Ciancaglini said he would have accepted a jury’s not-guilty verdict on first- or third-degree charges in this case, “but the jury did not get to decide this.”

He agreed with the victim’s mother that the jury should have been presented with both charges. It could have selected which one best fit the crime, he said. “That’s what juries do.”

The White jury was prevented from doing that.

If you don’t like the outcome, don’t blame the jury.

Blame the D.A. He sabotaged the jurors. 

15 thoughts on “D.A. Krasner handcuffed jury”

    Sorry to say, with krasner as the D.A., justice really is blind. The residents of Philly are like sheep being led to slaughter ! The choices for elected positions, often enough, are not that great. To me, this means that the voting public needs to get involved early on in the democratic process. Get behind a worthy candidate early on, and actually go out and support that person. YOU can make a difference !

  2. Whether we like it or not, in the words of His Honor W. Wilson Goode, 65 percent of the community is a minority. And this was a very, very popular verdict for the minority community. It fits the progressive narrative of minorities are simply fighting back against their oppressors.

    The way this case was prosecuted had nothing to do with justice, it was the fulfillment of a political campaign promise, designed to promote the Krasner’s re-election by a gullible electorate. If the election were held tomorrow, Krapster would carry the minority community by a landslide.

    In the end, it all comes down to votes with which to perpetuate himself in office.

      1. Because they had to prove intent for manslaughter. They wouldnt have had to prove intent for 3rd degree

  3. you can thank george soros for backing krasner, who upon becoming the D.A. of Philly, immediately set about doing no good for soros. it’s going to get worse before the voting public of Philadelphia wakes up and makes a lot of changes.
    goibg back a few years. there was a morning drive guy name, Jim Gearhardt(?) on N.J.101.5. the guy was straight forward about the current topics. one of his sayings / songs was GRIP and BOHICA. “get rid of incompetent politicians”meant just about all of them and “bend over here it comes again” , which is what we got every time the pols got together and voted for something for themselves.

  4. I still can’t understand why Krapner even had anything to do with reducing the charges. Usually it is the defense attorney who asks for reduced charges and the D.A. can object to it or approve it. Oh and having the Original White Guilt Judge Bronson didn’t hurt either.

  5. Philadelphians keep electing the same goniffs year after year. They get what they deserve. It’s not the system that stinks, it’s the people who perpetuate the system.

  6. There’s been a significant spike in violent crime in Philadelphia. Criminals continue to become more brazen in their disregard for authority. So let’s ban plastic bags.

  7. Thank you for the objective analysis. I’d assume most of your readers are pretty bright and had less trouble than I in catching this subtlety. But, to quibble..? I find it (potentially) inadequate to rely on only the capitalization to understand, and took me reading twice, having already searched for jury information, to catch the capitonym’s role in the sentence’s meaning:

    “The White jury was prevented from doing that.”

    I’d already wondered if we were revealed the jury’s demography. Which of COURSE, just like that of perpetrator demography, courts and media seem to have predictable criteria for when they’ve withheld vs emblazoned the information.

    The public’s free to not only know the exact composition of the Chauvin trial’s jurors, but the court also biased it’s composition to a statistically lopsided distribution compared to the area MPD covers, and literally even worse!?? The court allowed voir dire (jury selection) questions that arguably screen either for complete imbeciles or those who’ve predetermined their conclusions:

    “Do you fear potential reprisals should you vote your conscience?”

    With all the DOXing that seems ONLY to happen by “one side” (because of conservatives reverence for the rules) … anyone who doesn’t fear potential repercussions should they not ‘Toe the Line,’ acquiescing to the media narrative … either lacks even an adolescent’s ability to predict the future, or, decided in advance how they’d vote.

    Only RETIRED Police officers could make any statement in favor of the defense?

    The defense isn’t provided Brady material (discovery) of witnesses whom the government has interviewed 10 TIMES … at 4am, the day of the witness’s testimony!?

    Prosecution’s expert witness says it’s the combination of pressure, angle, etc., causing a lack of oxygen in to Floyd’s lungs. But, it’s not the combination of drugs, 75+ percent occlusion, recent ingestion to conceal additional fentanyl..? Literally, to the exclusion..? Remember, LACK OF OXYGEN TO LUNGS, causing hypoxia … despite Floyd’s post-mortem oxygen level being 98%..?

    The judge defines a scenario in which a ‘MISTRIAL,’ would be declared.
    Prosecution immediately violates the rule, devoid of consequence?
    Ashli Babbitt is justified — but a fleeing felon a quota hire unintentionally shot is homicide?
    Amidst another RIOT, jurors aren’t sequestered..?

    If deliberation takes less than a day, I’d guess there was as much indecision prior as after the trial.

    Again, thanks for your analysis. In this article, I’m asking for more overt indices than the capitalization of “White” — specifically because the video of the event was exclusively viewed by jurors.

    This is a trial in which the accused who has already confessed, chose to testify. What jury would a black defendant, not accused, but ADMITTED committing … use..? A crime which but a day prior, messaged a friend to assert his desire to [kill] a [white] person.

    What JURY would someone offer a completely FALSIFIED allegation (via video) that a racial slur JUSTIFIED STABBING Schellenger … repeatedly! as he walked away from the defendant — to justify his claim of self-defense..?

    ALL eye witnesses but also the video contradict the allegation. But even if it were TRUE, hearsay of a slur constitutes a mitigating factor??

    This is why I take umbrage with the wording; because those who’ve looked to see how this wasn’t a conviction or at least a hung jury … have been denied such information — just like we’ve been denied seeing the video.

    1. Actually — there’s more evidence and I may be wrong in my characterization of the event between Schellenger and Mr. White. I need to do more reading — but while my opinion of the Chauvin trial and governmental misconduct is sincere, my opinions of this stabbing are less certain now.

      I also find Chauvin anything but “blameless.”

      His wanton indifference was disturbing! I was enraged by the video when I first watched it. But the government is overcharging him … and acting in bad faith, abusing the system. No one sees gradations anymore.

      Thanks if anyone should read this.

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