Family and supporters of Michael White held a vigil at True Gospel Tabernacle Family Church in South Philadelphia Tuesday night, the eve of his preliminary hearing on first-degree murder charges.
It was the church where White turned himself in to police about two weeks ago in the stabbing death of 37-year-old real estate developer Sean Schellenger.
According to police, Schellenger was riding with two others in a Mercedes-Benz late on the night of July 13 near Rittenhouse Square when a confrontation ensued with White.
White, an Uber Eats delivery bicyclist, pulled a knife from his backpack and fatally stabbed Schellenger, police said.
Greg Thompson, a spokesman for White’s family, has said he acted in self-defense.
About 40 people joined in praying Tuesday night for White, 20.
“We’re praying that tomorrow the charges will be reduced,” said Thompson.
“We’re praying that they’ll be reduced, so we can make bail for Michael. And we’re praying that, once that happens, we’ll have him under house arrest,” He said. “And this will happen at the bar of the court, and all the facts will come out about what happened that night.”
Philly.com is reporting that city District Attorney Larry Krasner will seek reduced charges.
Thompson said he has not heard anything from Krasner’s office. Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment on Tuesday.
White, a student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, remains optimistic, Thompson said.
“He’s hopeful, spirits high,” said Tanya Armstrong, White’s aunt. “He just don’t want to watch the news. He doesn’t want to see no papers. He just wants to keep everything positive.”
White’s friends and family continue to reiterate that White is a caring and creative person.
“Great young man,” said Quinnell Armstrong, White’s uncle. “Loved school, he loved poetry, he loved writing. He loved his music, he loved his family. He loves his friends. Believe me, if he was here, he’d say he love you, too. Don’t down a person because you don’t know who they are.”
White’s preliminary hearing is expected to take place Wednesday morning at the Criminal Justice Center.