Larry, Larry, Larry.
Larry Krasner is the District Attorney of Philadelphia, a man unsuited by temperament and experience for the job to which he was elected, but he is loving it.
The people he should be serving and protecting? Not so much.
Where to start? With the latest example of his affection for the accused — his baffling request last week that the courts give him permission to reduce charges from third-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter against the defendant in the Rittenhouse stabbing murder. He got a green light for the reduction on Monday.
You remember the case: Sean Schellenger, a 37-year-old Point Breeze developer, was stabbed to death by Michael White, 21, a deliveryman and student during an altercation near Rittenhouse Square.
There was no legal reason for reducing the charges, I am told by lawyers I trust. There was no logical reason for it either.
This is not a knee-jerk rant on my part against Krasner.
Last August, when the D.A. declined to file first-degree murder charges against White, I supported that decision.
“As a law and order guy — yes, I am the one at this paper — I am no big Krasner fan, but I am a big fan of justice. That means charging the right guy with the right crime,” I wrote, and based on the evidence at the time, this did not seem like first-degree, premeditated murder.
Krasner instead filed for third-degree and voluntary manslaughter. Third-degree carries a penalty of from 20-40 years in jail, while voluntary manslaughter carries 10-20 years.
Last week he suddenly decided his office would have a better chance of conviction on the lesser charge.
Linda Schellenger, the victim’s mother, was outraged. Both murder and manslaughter should be on the table, she said, to let the jury decide.
That seems to be what Krasner wants to avoid, because his heart is always with the defendant. There is no surprise here. When he was running for D.A., two words he used a lot — “mass incarceration,” “end bail” and “restorative justice.” Three words he never used — “law and order.”
For the record, I support him in reducing cash bail and his efforts to review cases in which defendants were treated unfairly and did not receive justice. But his job description does not include remaking the criminal justice system.
Did Krasner want to make the murder charge disappear because he plans on offering a plea deal that would be less than the 10-20 years voluntary manslaughter carries? Is Krasner trying to cut the sentence down to a misdemeanor? There is a dead victim to consider. We will find out soon.
Krasner’s coddling of criminals was clear in the case of Meek Mill, the rapper-turned-social-justice-warrior, who was arrested long ago on drug and gun charges. There was controversy surrounding the length and terms of his parole, true, but Krasner acted more like his defense attorney than as a prosecutor. Somewhere along the way, like progressive magic, the gun charge was made to disappear.
Another guy with a gun, Mumia Abu-Jamal, also has Krasner’s sympathies, rather than his deceased victim, Police Officer Danny Faulkner, who was executed on a Center City sidewalk almost 40 years ago.
And for almost 40 years the Mumidiots have unsuccessfully tried to convince the public that the Black Panther radio-reporter-turned-cab-driver was not guilty. His case has proven to be a cottage industry for lawyers who have filed countless appeals, which have always been fought by the district attorney’s office.
Mumia lawyer Judith Ritter on Sept. 3, asked Superior Court to send the case back to Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker. The defense contends it has discovered new evidence significant to Mumia’s appeal. They found new evidence after 40 years? Maybe they found magic beans, too.
Breaking with tradition, the D.A. went into the tank and said it did not oppose Mumia’s motion.
Does Krasner actually want a new trial for Mumia? It’s like Krasner doesn’t understand our criminal justice system is adversarial, pitting defense versus prosecution. As a reminder: Larry — you are the prosecutor.
Faulkner’s widow Maureen and about 100 others protested last week outside Krasner’s office, with the widow calling on Krasner to recuse himself because of conflicts of interest, the Inquirer reported. Krasner’s wife, Common Pleas Judge Lisa Rau, was once a law firm partner with David Rudovsky, who represented Mumia in earlier appeals, said Faulkner. She also said some D.A. staffers previously were Mumia advocates.
D.A. spokesperson Jane Roh declined comment to the Inquirer, but mocked the protestors with tweets that were borderline racist (notice the spelling of “qwhite”) and ageist. Empathy is reserved for criminals. Philadelphians, you pay her $118,000 salary.
The Mumidiots are persistent. They have gamed the system for decades and won’t quit until he’s dead. They probably won’t even stop then. Their hero killed Faulkner and now the scum won’t give his widow and his friends permanent closure.
I would tell Krasner he has to choose sides, but he already has.
The wrong side.
Part 2 Thursday: Krasner questions himself.