The woman who fatally stabbed former University of Pennsylvania basketball star Matt White -- his wife of 25 years -- on Tuesday was found guilty but mentally ill of voluntary manslaughter.
Delaware County Court Judge Kevin Kelly, who presided at the non-jury trial, scheduled a February sentencing for Maria Garcia-Pellon, 54.
"It's an appropriate verdict," said Thomas Bergstrom, attorney for Garcia-Pellon, who also was found guilty but mentally ill on a weapons count.Early on Feb. 11, 2013, Garcia-Pellon killed her husband as he lay sleeping in their Nether Providence Township home.
The prosecution had sought first- and third-degree verdicts against Garcia-Pellon, who has been in the county jail since her arrest in the slaying.
Garcia-Pellon, wearing a prison jumpsuit, displayed no emotion in the quiet courtroom, where family and friends exchanged hugs after the verdict was pronounced.
Experts testified that at the time of the slaying, she had been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. "She was operating under a delusional system," said Elliott Atkins, a forensic psychologist, who had examined Garcia-Pellon on behalf of the defense.
Hours after the killing, Garcia-Pellon, 54, showed up at a friend's home and said she killed White because he was looking at child pornography. No pornographic images were found on any of the computers in the home, detectives testified.
She later told doctors she was worried that White would kill her to prevent her from getting the word out that an attack similar to the Sandy Hook school shootings in December 2012 soon would occur.
The couple met in Spain where White played professional basketball. He was the starting center on the 1979 University of Pennsylvania team that reached the NCAA Final Four and was an NBA draft pick.
Garcia-Pellon was a longtime teacher's aide in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District.
She had been suffering from mental illness since 2001, said Bergstrom, who was the attorney for John E. du Pont, who in 1997 was found guilty but mentally ill in the slaying of Olympic wrestler David Schultz.
Witnesses at Garcia-Pellon's trial recounted her delusional behavior before the killing.
Concerned about her delusions, White brought his wife to Riddle Memorial Hospital the day before he was killed. She was discharged with an appointment for follow-up treatment with a psychiatrist.
That night Garcia-Pellon retrieved two kitchen knives, hid them by her bed, and, when White fell asleep, killed him.