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Detroit Front Porch Shooting case: Day 2 End-of-Day Wrap-Up

Detroit Front Porch Shooting case: Day 2 End-of-Day Wrap-Up

Prosecution requests sanctions for defense mention of neighborhood crime; police testify front door peephole was functional

This afternoon saw testimony from two additional Dearborn Heights law enforcement officers,  Tim Zawacki and Mark Parrinello.

Highlights of this afternoon’s events included a request by the Prosecution for sanctions against the defense for a mention earlier this morning of general crime in the Wafer neighborhood.  A pretrial ruling excludes such generalized mention of neighborhood crime unless a foundation can be established of Wafer’s personal knowledge of specific crime events (e.g., the defense’s proposed “neighborhood crime map” that was excluded by the Judge Hathaway).

Also important was the testimony by Officer Parrinello that the peephole in the front door was functional.  A key difficulty for the defense is the question of why Wafer opened the front door.  It was this act that made him vulnerable to potential attack, which is presumably his reason for having discharged the shotgun.  Had he simply stayed behind his locked door, no deadly force would have been required.  One possible explanation would have been that the peephole in his front door was disabled, and therefore he could ascertain the situation outside his front door only by opening it.  That argument’s power is now greatly diminished if not eliminated.

OK, folks, that’s it for today. As the tweet above states, there’s no court tomorrow, so we’ll see you all back on Monday.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

[NOTE: Images of trial postings from the live blog of the Detroit Free Press have been removed at their request.]

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He holds many state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and produces free online self-defense law educational video- and podcasts at the Law of Self Defense University.


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Gremlin1974 | July 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Andrew, thanks for your analysis and keeping us up to date. Also, thanks to the reporters who are covering this case from the courtroom.

may want to fix the errant html in post, the links to your books and stuff are messed up.

Richard Aubrey | July 25, 2014 at 6:47 am

I’d like to know why Wafer opened the door. Did he do it without thinking? Wondering what was going on?
What kind of door offers security? A heavy door firmly fixed to the frame, which itself is solidly attached to the fabric of the house.
I used to do window repairs in the Detroit and western suburbs, going on fifty years ago. An awful lot of those places were run up fast just as the WW II guys were getting families and jobs and needing a home. Our subdivision had four floor plans. Perhaps Wafer, as a healthy man of no–afaik–crippling restrictions knew what he could do if he wanted to, or even if he stumbled, thought his door was susceptible to being kicked in by anybody over 135 pounds.
I might, were I thinking at that hour in that situation, want to wait, standing well back, for somebody to kick the door in so I could have both hands on the weapon and not be hit by a swinging door.
OTOH, cool thought, as somebody almost said, is not required in the presence, or the presumed presence, of an upraised knife.
Peephole…meh. You can see somebody standing right in front of it, but that’s all. You can’t see if there are other people, and you can’t see somebody who may be to the side.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Richard Aubrey. | July 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Peephole at 4am? WHen it’s dark?

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Richard Aubrey. | July 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    This occurred at 4:30am in November – darker than the inside of a cow at the time. Wafer might have a porch light and it might have a live bulb in it. But I believe I read that Wafer said he’d turned off one or two interior lights after the commotion started, so it may be that he didn’t want to give away whether or not someone was home. That seems prudent and would explain why he didn’t turn on the porch light, if he had one and if it worked.

    There may have been some ambient street light but not enough to help with a peep hole. Most are designed to only show a small area in front of the door.

    I think the prosecution’s peep hole evidence is more of a rabbit hole.

Their crime scene tech’s credentials are a week-long training session taken 2-3 years ago…???

Meanwhile, there is a surplus pool of crime scene techs with two to four year degrees and training they could hire from.

Now I can see where small town rural departments operating on a shoestring budget might multi-purpose an officer, but a suburb of Detroit not having a dedicated and more highly credentialed investigator is curious.

Richard Aubrey | July 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm

If you’re on the outside, with your eye up to the peephole, you can see when the inside person puts his eye to it. Then you know when to shoot.
Wafer might have been told that or figured it out for himself, so the use of peephole when the door is, sounds like, being aggressively attacked would be contraindicated, even in his justt-awakened state.

Do we know for a fact that Wafer unlocked and/or opened the door? Or are we just assuming as much?
Is it possible that McBride, who apparently banged on the screen door hard enough to break it from it’s hinges, opened an unlocked front door?