A murder trial that many are comparing to the Trayvon Martin case has begun in Detroit. Fifty-four-year-old Theodore Wafer is facing charges of second degree murder, manslaughter and committing a felony with a firearm in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride last November. The case sparked protests and has been followed closely by activists, who liken the crime to the 2012 murder of Martin in in its racial tone.
In the early morning hours of November 2, McBride crashed her car while driving under the influence of alcohol. According to a witness to the crash, McBride was bloodied and seemed confused and disoriented. The teen wandered around for a few hours, ending up on Wafer’s front porch. She banged on the — locked — door, according to Wafer. His response? Grab his shotgun and shoot McBride in the face. That’s right. No call to 911, no calling out to the person on the other side of the door, no weighing the situation. No, Wafer grabbed his shotgun, opened the door and blasted McBride in the face. Then he called 911.
Wayne County District Court Judge David Turfe, who ordered Wafer to stand trial after prosecutors presented their evidence, had this to say at the time:
“The defendant came to the door with a shotgun. His first thought was to bring the gun, not call for help or not answer the door. We can’t allow (someone) to use a bad decision as a shield to criminal prosecution. … The defendant made a bad choice.”
Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, pleaded self-defense but Wayne County prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark called that idea “ridiculous.” If Wafer was really in fear for his life, she pointed out, he would have called the police. Instead, he decided to open the door, shove the shotgun in McBride’s face and pull the trigger.
Even before the trial began, Judge Dana Hathaway denied the defense’s request to enter photos McBride had posted on social media, citing them as irrelevant to the case. Carpenter complained that this denial will “blow our defense to pieces” since she couldn’t use the photos to argue that McBride could have “been up to no good.” Since Michigan doesn’t have a Stand Your Ground law, self-defense is all that Carpenter can go with.
Legal consultant Lisa Bloom says that self-defense will be hard to argue:
“This is certainly an unusual self-defense case because Theodore Wafer was in his own home. The door was locked. I’d be very surprised if he was acquitted in this case.”
McBride’s mother says that her daughter was seeking help. Renisha was intoxicated, injured and scared. Her mother can’t imagine what Wafer could have feared from her daughter in such a state. The answer to that, in my opinion and given the evidence, is nothing.
Here is a guy who heard someone banging on his door in the middle of the night. Instead of calling 911 or calling out to the person at his door, he chose to open said door and shoot the person on his porch in the face with a shotgun. No asking who it was, no looking through the peephole or window. Just shooting first and never asking questions at all. It’s reprehensible.
I can say this from experience, having had someone on my porch at 2:00 am, pounding on my door. In a house with three handguns available, we chose to call 911 and talk to the man through the front door. He was drunk and thought he was at his girlfriend’s house. How did we know? We stayed behind our locked door trying to converse with the man until the police came. When they arrived, they took the man into custody. Nobody was hurt and nobody in my home thought to grab a gun, open the door and shoot the man in the face.
It’s all about choices: Theodore Wafer chose to shoot Renisha in cold blood without even finding out who she was and what she wanted. He chose to shoot her. And, for his poor choice, he should pay.