Ex-Penn Final Four Basketball Player Slain; Wife Charged

The wife of Matthew White, who played basketball for the University of Pennsylvania on its 1979 Final Four team, was charged with stabbing him to death as he slept.

White’s wife, Maria Reyes Garcia-Pellon, was charged with first-degree murder, criminal homicide and possessing an instrument of crime, according to documents filed in state court in Media, Pennsylvania. Garcia-Pellon, 53, is being held in Delaware County jail without bail. It’s unclear whether she has retained an attorney, County District Attorney Jack Whelan said in an interview.

Police arrested Garcia-Pellon Feb. 11 at about 12:44 p.m. as she returned to the home she shared with White in Nether Providence Township, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Philadelphia. Garcia-Pellon told police she stabbed White after she caught him looking at “pornography, young girls,” according to court papers.

“I love kids. I had to do it,” Garcia-Pellon told police, according to court documents.

White was discovered on the couple’s bed with a stab wound to the neck. Garcia-Pellon told police that sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. she left her bedroom and went to the kitchen to retrieve a glass of water and two knives. She hid the knives on her side of the bed and waited until White fell asleep. She then stabbed him in the neck, according to the documents.

‘I’m Dying’

White awoke and began struggling. Garcia-Pellon told police White said, “I’m dying, I’m dying,” before he collapsed on the bed, according to the documents.

Garcia-Pellon changed her clothes and went to the home of a friend, who later called the authorities, according to the court documents.

White played center on the Penn team that made it to the semifinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championship in 1979. Philadelphia-based Penn was the last Ivy League team to advance that far, losing 101-67 to a Michigan State University squad led by Magic Johnson, according to a history on the school’s website. Michigan State went on to win the championship.

Cornell was the most recent Ivy League school to advance in the tournament, reaching the third round as a No. 12 seed in 2010 before losing to the University of Kentucky. Harvard University lost to Vanderbilt University in the first round last year.

Campus Event

White, who played for Penn from 1976 until 1979, was on campus this month for an alumni event around its Feb. 2 game against Cornell.

“We are greatly saddened to hear about the death of Matt White, and shocked by the details emerging about his death,” Steve Bilsky, Penn’s athletic director, said in an e-mailed statement. “For Penn fans, Matt is a reminder of some of the greatest days of our historic men’s basketball program. He was a beloved member of the Penn men’s basketball family right up until his death.”

White was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the fifth round of the 1979 National Basketball Association draft. He played 12 seasons in Spain, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn’s independent student newspaper.