A Philadelphia judge on Friday denied a request to revoke bail for the man accused of fatally stabbing a real estate developer near Rittenhouse Square last year after prosecutors said the defendant recently tried to follow the victim’s brother on Instagram.
Still, Common Pleas Court Judge Glenn B. Bronson told Michael White that any attempts to make contact with relatives of Sean Schellenger — whom White is accused of killing — would constitute “egregious misbehavior.” And the judge said that although he was not certain if White’s request was intentional, he suggested that White stay off Instagram until his October trial to avoid any potential pitfalls.
“If it happens again,” Bronson said, he will revoke White’s bail.
White, 22, faces third-degree murder charges in the stabbing of Schellenger, 37, on July 12, 2018, during a random encounter at 17th and Chancellor Streets. Authorities have said that White plunged a knife into Schellenger’s back after Schellenger wrapped his arms around White in a wrestling move.
White told Bronson on Friday that he had “no idea” how his Instagram account sought to connect with that of Justin Schellenger.
“I did not request to follow that man,” White said.
His lawyers, public defenders Dan Stevenson and Jonathan Strange, said they believed that Instagram’s algorithm for suggesting potential friends could have surfaced Justin Schellenger’s account, and that White could have inadvertently tapped on it.
The attorneys said the possibility of Instagram’s suggesting a connection may have been heightened because Sean Schellenger’s relatives have interacted with White’s Instagram account. And White told Bronson on Friday that days before he apparently requested to follow Justin Schellenger, Schellenger had requested to follow him.
Assistant District Attorney Anthony Voci asked White if he had any proof of Schellenger’s initial request. White said no.