Sep 26, 2023 - News

New crime docuseries debuts on 2018 fatal stabbing in Philadelphia

Michael White

Michael White tells his story in the new docuseries "72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square." Photo courtesy of Paramount+

A new docuseries premieres Tuesday about one of the most high-profile criminal cases in Philadelphia's recent history — the 2018 fatal stabbing of a real estate developer by a food delivery worker in Rittenhouse.

Why it matters: The killing and trial drew debate about race, privilege and class across the city, along with national media attention.

What's happening: The three-part series "72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square" on Paramount+ details the fatal encounter between Michael White, who is Black, and Sean Schellenger, who is white, after a traffic dispute five years ago.

  • The documentary marks White's first extensive on-camera talk about the events of that night.

Context: A jury found White not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal stabbing in 2019.

Catch up quick: In July 2018, White was working as a bicycle food courier when he encountered Schellenger, who was in the middle of a traffic dispute at 17th and Chancellor Streets.

  • The two got into a fight that led to White fatally stabbing Schellenger, which he said during trial that he did in self-defense.
  • White fled and turned himself in to police the next day.
Tigre Hill and Linda Schellenger
Tigre Hill, e director and producer of the new series, interviews Linda Schellenger, Sean Schellenger's mother. Photo courtesy of Paramount+

Details: The series uses surveillance footage, 911 calls and eyewitness accounts to reconstruct the events.

  • In addition to White, the filmmakers interview members of both White and Schellenger's families, as well as police, prosecutors and news reporters.

The intrigue: The series will feature never-before-seen cellphone video of the fatal encounter, per a news release.

What they're saying: Tigre Hill, the docuseries' director and producer, tells Axios the case is a microcosm of the top issues in the U.S. today., including the ongoing debates around progressive prosecution tactics and tough-on-crime policies.

  • "The audience is the jury here," he says.

Watch the trailer


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