MEDIA, Pa. - The wife of a former University of Pennsylvania basketball standout found guilty but mentally ill in his stabbing death may soon be paroled to the state mental hospital for treatment.
Maria Garcia-Pellon, 54, could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison on the voluntary manslaughter conviction in the February 2013 stabbing death of 55-year-old Matthew White in their Nether Providence home.
But Delaware County Judge Kevin Kelly said Friday he believed her treatment in prison would be inadequate. Instead, he sentenced her to as much as 23 months in jail with an additional 23 years of probation, ordering her transfer to the Norristown State Hospital when a bed becomes available.
Defence attorney Thomas Bergstrom called the sentence "a really good result" and praised the judge's hard work in crafting it. Assistant District Attorney Kathleen McGee said she was in the unique position of having the victim's family "supporting the defendant."
Garcia-Pellon would be eligible for release from the hospital after 90 days. Kelly ordered that upon release she serve 18 months of electronic home monitoring and have monthly blood tests to monitor medication levels as well as weekly contact with parole and probation officials.
Kelly said he considered the opinions of medical specialists, explored the treatment available in prison, and took into account the community and family support available to the defendant, who apologized in court Friday.
"I want to say I am very sorry for what happened two years ago to Matthew White, my husband and the father of my two children," Garcia-Pellon said, adding that she had been unaware of her mental illness and now knows she must take medication "for the rest of my life."
White was the starting centre on the Penn team that made it to the Final Four in 1979. He was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers and played in Europe.