'I cannot forget that night': Michael White takes the stand in Rittenhouse Square stabbing trial

Michael White took the witness stand Tuesday and told jurors “I cannot forget that night.” The 22-year-old is charged in the deadly stabbing of Sean Schellenger during an angry altercation in Rittenhouse Square. 

White testified he came upon a traffic tie-up at 17th and Chancellor while on his bike delivering food that July 12 night. He said a black Mercedes Benz carrying Sean Schellenger was blocked in by an African American Uber driver and that he, White, was blocked by the Mercedes.

He testified he heard one of Schellenger’s companions make a racist comment about the Uber driver and that Schellenger got out of the Mercedes and approached that driver while rolling up his sleeves and clenching his fists.

“There’s really no reason at all to act like a tough guy,” White said he called out to Schellenger.
Almost immediately, White testified, Schellenger “is in my face, telling me he’s going to beat the black off me.”

White testified he pulled out the knife he carried for self-defense and while moving backward demanded of Schellenger, “Back the —- up.” 

At that point, said White, “he lowered his shoulder and rammed himself into me.”

Cell phone video shows Schellenger has White in a bear hug with White’s feet already off the ground as White stabs Schellenger in the back. 

“I wasn’t trying to kill nobody,” he told jurors. “I was defending myself... I was thinking I could die.”

Sean Schellenger and Michael White

Right to left: Michael White, 22, has been charged with the murder of real estate developer Sean Schellenger.

During cross-examination, prosecutors described for the jury a note found on White’s cell phone written nine days before the fatal stabbing.

The note said, “don’t —— me off. You’ll get cut, N-word.”

White, who is a slam poet, insisted his words were taken out of context that he was scared and not angry.

“There’s no anger in defending myself," White said.

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