My son, Sean Schellenger, was murdered July 12. What I have learned since then is what too many victims' families in this city have already experienced. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is not, in my opinion, working for justice in violent crime cases.
My son was murdered, and Krasner, who is my son's legal representative, agreed to a reduced charge in this case before a judge or jury had the opportunity to consider the original charge, made by his office. Krasner has not returned phone calls nor kept scheduled meetings with me. My family and I have met with him only once since my son was murdered and that was before the Aug. 1 hearing when he reduced the charge.
During a chance encounter on the street on Oct. 1, I asked Krasner to reconsider the charge based on new evidence, and he asked me to schedule a meeting with him. I called his office five days in a row and left messages every day, with no return call. I finally reached the office's victims advocate, who scheduled a meeting for Oct.16, only to have it cancelled at 9:45 p.m. the night before. They said they'd send new dates. I've heard nothing since.
We've been assigned prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office. They are fine, highly qualified professionals whom we have great faith in. However, it's been made clear to us that their recommendations can be and are overruled by Krasner.
The shame of it is that I am a supporter of Krasner's political platform. I, too, believe that in the case of minor legal infractions or misdemeanors, sentences are too long, and people are incarcerated inappropriately. However, I do not, and have never, believed that reducing sentencing guidelines or charges in the case of violent crime, specifically murder, is just. Violent crimes, especially murder, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Sean was compassionate, smart, incredibly giving, the son and brother every family dreams of, a friend for life. His life was taken from us in a violent crime. The preliminary hearing for this case is Oct. 30, and my reasoned request, on behalf of the victims of violent crime across the city of Philadelphia, is that Larry Krasner do his job and ensure that this case – and others like it – is tried before a judge and jury, on the murder charge, so that justice may be served.
Linda Schellenger is the mother of murder victim Sean Schellenger and the retired CEO of a Merck wholly owned subsidiary.