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Detroit Front Porch Shooting case: Day 2 Mid-Day Wrap-Up

Detroit Front Porch Shooting case: Day 2 Mid-Day Wrap-Up

Law enforcement testimony suggests Wafer’s firing of the shotgun may have been unintentional, undercutting a legal defense of self-defense.

The State’s case against Wafer proceeded through several more witnesses today, including additional officers on scene as well as dash-cam video from a “Scout” patrol car, witnesses to McBride’s single-vehicle car crash some hours before the shooting, and the 911 dispatcher who took Wafer’s call.

To me the most relevant bits of testimony came at the start and end of the morning, both having to do with the notion that Wafer’s firing of the shotgun was unintentional.

When Dearborn Heights police officer Rory McManmon was testifying with respect to the dash-cam recording, it was revealed that Wafer indicated he didn’t know that there was a round in the shotgun’s chamber.

Similarly, just before the lunch break 911 dispatcher Valentine Pepper testified that Wafer told him over the phone that he fired the shotgun by accident. (This part of the 911 call was not recorded, however, because it occurred when 911 called back Wafer.)

Such testimony is relevant because any indication that a shooting was accidental or inadvertent is very damaging to a self-defense claim.  Self-defense is an inherently deliberate act–essentially the defendant is saying, “YES, I shot that person, and they died as a result, but I did so in necessary and lawful self-defense.”  An accident, on the other hand, is the opposite of a deliberate act–it’s something you explicitly did not intend to have happen.  If you claim one, you generally lose the other.

It’s important to keep in mind that under Michigan law, second degree murder (the most serious of the charges against Wafer) does not require the prosecution to prove any intent to cause death or grave bodily harm (although such proof beyond a reasonable doubt would be sufficient).

Rather, the prosecution need merely convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) Wafer caused the death of McBride–a fact not in dispute; and (2) that Wafer knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or great bodily harm would be the likely result of his actions. Here Judge Dana Hathaway reads the second degree murder instruction to the jury:

OK, folks, that’s it for today. We’ll have more coverage of today’s Wafer trial at day’s end.

–-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 Amazon.com (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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Comments

I seriously doubt 2nd Degree Murder is going to stick. Answering the door at 4 am with a gun in your hand is not an unreasonable action (opening the door I think is stupid, but still doesn’t meet the murder 2 charge).

However, my gut feeling is telling me that he’s going to be convicted of Manslaughter.

    sequester in reply to Olinser. | July 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Wafers admissions do not show that he knowingly created a great risk of bodily harm. These statements to police do not help a claim of self defense. He is admitting some form of negligence to the police.

    Andrew, under Michigan Law what charge is most consistent with Wafer’s admissions?

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Olinser. | July 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    When trouble comes knocking at your door at 4 in the morning, it isn’t going away just because you don’t answer. The most important thing at that point is intelligence ie to have a clear a picture of what is happening. If the only he can get that is to cautiously open the door, then that is what he has to do. Any big city resident would do something similar.

      tom swift in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      When trouble comes knocking at weird hours, so far as defense is concerned you don’t greatly care what the trouble is as long as it stays outside.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to tom swift. | July 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

        If it stays outside, But given that it is 4am, it is probably going to try to come in.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | July 25, 2014 at 12:08 am

        It would be reasonable to fear that the knocker’s plan is to NOT stay outside if they are banging so loud and hard on your door at 4:30am that they’ve trashed the screen door half off its hinges.

    janitor in reply to Olinser. | July 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Last time someone came loudly banging on my door at 4 a.m. it was the cops. On an idiot mission in hot pursuit of the wrong person who had committed some misdemeanor somewhere in the vicinity. I’m pretty sure I woke up the whole neighborhood shouting expletives at them.

    Wasn’t the first time. One summer afternoon while I was at work, a group of the local police yahoos, on a report that an escaped convict had been seen in the neighborhood, raced into my back yard, through the screened pool area, and through my house with guns drawn — for the protection of course of my then minor kids and aged parents who nearly had heart attacks.

    And once in college, I opened the door to an entire SWAT team. The roommate’s mother was worried, hadn’t heard from him in a few days and had got some prank call.

    Bottom line is you don’t open the door with a gun drawn. You call out the window to find out who it is.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to janitor. | July 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      I think that in Detroit it is much more likely to be drug dealers then the police. Especially if you hear the screen door being ripped off.

Whatever the legality of what he did is, and whether it was accidental discharge or not… I don’t see how society is served by a productive member of society going to prison after killing a fugitive of justice who had fled the scene of her latest DUI. A DUI which easily could have resulted in more than two damaged cars, which could have easily resulted in the deaths of pedestrians, other motorists, or the criminal Renisha McBride herself.

Drinking illegally underage.
Driving drunk illegally.
Using illegal drugs.
Posing with guns on social media.
Trying to forcefully gain entry to Wafer’s house.

Good riddance.

I hope the jury lets Wafer off, and he can get back to his life after it was rudely interrupted by this miscreant. Unfortunately, I expect the best he can hope for is a hung jury and the hope that they don’t retry him… but they will. No way does he get a free and clear not guilty verdict with such diversity on his jury. Some people put racial allegiance and emotion before all other considerations.

I’m putting the good of society before other considerations. Wafer in jail does not serve the good of society. McBride off the streets does.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Not to completely disagree with you, but McBride wasn’t a “fugitive from justice”, she would have had to be convicted of something for that. I am not defending her or her actions, I am just saying.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      “Fugitive from justice” is a bit of a stretch, but she did leave the scene of a crime.

        Laser Beam in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm

        Just so, perhaps Mr. Branca or some other legal mind can tell us whether the police consider you a fugitive from justice if you flee the scene of your DUI. Certainly, the police want to interact with you, and they cannot because you have fled…

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm

          No I can agree that she made some very poor choices, most likely due to intoxication by multiple substances, I just thought “fugitive from justice” was a bit harsh, lol.

          Laser Beam in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 2:48 pm

          Harsh, perhaps. But I stand by the accuracy of it.

          I believe a person who crashes during a DUI and then flees the scene before authorities show up is a fugitive from justice. Because they’ve broken the law, and the police are seeking them, and they will be held accountable for that law-breaking if the police find them.

          I think McBride probably had just enough sobriety in her to realize she’d better get out of there before cops showed up, and that it would behoove her if her BAC was considerably lower by the time she had to interact with them. I suspect she probably passed out in someone’s backyard or along the side of someone’s house for 3 hours, toward that end.

          The person whose car she wrecked into apparently drove around quite a bit looking for her after she disappeared, and couldn’t find her. That indicates to me that she had enough sobriety and self-preservation instinct to know she needed to hide. I think she found somewhere she wouldn’t be seen from the street, and laid down.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm

          @Laser Beam

          I can see your point.

          As for McBride’s state of mind or her actions in the intervening time I can’t say and would not speculate.

          Immolate in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm

          IANAL, but it seems quite clear to me that a fugitive must first have been ordered to be incarcerated, skipped bail, failed to appear, or has otherwise violated some specific legal directive issues by a legitimate authority. Hit and run, stealing something surreptitiously, even killing someone without being suspected of the crime doesn’t make you a fugitive.

          I would be bamfoozled if there were not clear requirements for the legal term “fugitive” in most jurisdictions.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Laser Beam. | July 25, 2014 at 2:06 am

          And the winner is…..Laser Beam!

          http://thelawdictionary.org/fugitive/

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Laser Beam. | July 25, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Agree 100%. McBride was the kind of person who, when a problem arises, demands that the entire world should drop whatever they’re doing and immediately come to her aid no matter how inconvenient it is, what it costs them, or how dangerous her behavior is.

    In her drunken stupor, McBride probably left her call phone in her wrecked car and didn’t want to go back for it for fear of running into the cops. Instead of taking shelter or cover behind some shrubbery or some out-of-the-way object or building for just a couple of hours to sober up and shield herself from sight until it became a decent enough hour to ask to borrow someone’s phone to call for a ride, she wanted to go home NOW and by God somebody needs to wake their ass up and take care of her NOW.

    As for the car she hit, yes, it’s only property, property that somebody probably worked hard to get. Unavoidable, unintentional traffic accidents happen, but this wasn’t that. She was a careless, thoughtless menace on the road.

    I would have to be bleeding so badly that I thought I was going to die before I would beat somebody’s door down at 4:30am to ask for help.

    Some want to talk about what Wafer SHOULD have done, and I realize that’s completely relevant to the court case in terms of reasonable action, but nobody wants to talk about what McBride actually DID that brought about her own death or the extent to which she endangered probably hundreds of other people by driving a motor vehicle at that level of intoxication. It’s quite possible that if Wafer hadn’t shot her that night she would have killed herself and/or others some other night. Nothing she did that night showed any regard for other people. It was all about I want to get drunk out of my mind, I want to drive with a stratospheric BAC level, I want to go home NOW and f#!k the rest of the world.

    McBride created the circumstances that lead to her death. Wafer was just the poor, sleepy bastard who lived in the house SHE chose to accost at 4:30am about the problem SHE created for herself.

    I guess there is solace in knowing that she was so drunk she didn’t know what hit her and died peacefully enough and a whole lot easier than many victims of drunk drivers do.

If Wafer really believed that his shotgun was unloaded, then I don’t see how they can get second degree.

Now of course all of us gun guys know that “I didn’t know it was loaded” is no excuse, but I’m talking about Michigan law here.

For second degree the state has to show “that Wafer knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or [g.b.h.] would be the likely result of his actions.” Wafer knowingly pointing a loaded gun at McBride would satisfy that requirement, even if he had no intention of shooting. A loaded gun is potentially very dangerous, and so demands careful handling.

But if he believed that the gun was unloaded, then so far as he knew it couldn’t present a risk of death or g.b.h.

In the event, the gun did indeed turn out to be very dangerous, but Wafer believed otherwise at the time. His careless handling of a gun he knew to be loaded would amount to second degree, but his careless handling of a gun he thought to be unloaded would not.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | July 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    @tom swift

    While I get what you are saying about him “knowingly” creating the circumstances, you know as well as I that as “gun guys” we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard, not only for our own safety, but also for the safety of our loved ones and the community at large. That is why we double and triple check chambers before handing firearms to one another much less those with less or questionable experience.

    I don’t know about you, but I know exactly which of the firearms in my home have a round in the chamber, which ones are loaded but no round is in the chamber, and which ones are completely unloaded at any given time.

    To me at this point I agree 2nd degree murder is not something I would go for as a jury member, however I would be leaning heavily towards Manslaughter at this point. Regardless of anything else he was negligent in his handling of a deadly weapon, by his own recorded admission, and because of that negligence someone lost their life, I just don’t see self defense anymore.

    (Note that I am not saying you are arguing self defense that is just my opinion.)

Gremlin1974 | July 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I just don’t see how Self Defense is going to stand up when there is a recording of the defendant saying that it was unintentional and that he thought there was no round in the chamber.

Where I on the jury that would certainly stick in my mind.

I agree with @Olinser I can easily see a Manslaughter conviction here.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 25, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I don’t see the two situations mutually exclusive.

    A untrained person who just keeps a shotgun around for home protection might forget whether or not it was loaded. Remember, there was a time when people just bought and fired guns without having to jump through a thousand hoops. I know many such people. They have one or two guns handed down or purchased before the government started their steroidal rampage against the Second Amendment. These people really don’t know much about guns beyond point-and-click. They clean them once every ten years or so.

    When non-gun guys and gals believe they’re under assault, the adrenalin flows. They might not have had the gun out in several years. They might forget to check to see if it’s loaded, if they even have time. They might forget to let the safety off. But what they DO know they can do is point that sucker at somebody and scare the beejeezus out of them so they run off. They also might accidentally pull the trigger, or they might pull it with the hope that it IS loaded, depending on the circumstances.

    McBride put herself in the extremely drunken condition she was in. McBride negligently hit a parked car and fled. McBride put herself in the circumstances of fleeing the cops or seeking a ride. McBride put herself at that door. McBride banged on and tore or half-tore Wafer’s outer door off. McBride loudly yelled and yelled. McBride’s incredible self-indulgence, negligence and complete disregard for others brought about a situation wherein she scared the hell out of somebody and they shot her death. It doesn’t matter one iota to me if the shooting was accidental or if it was done intentionally out of fear.

    Nobody in their right mind would do what she did. Yes, she was so drunk she may not have been in her right mind, but that isn’t Wafer’s fault or his responsibility. It’s McBride’s fault. She was her own keeper, as all adults are. She could have just as easily wrapped herself around a tree that night or run into a Mack truck or a building or off a bridge and died. Her condition and conduct were so egregiously negligent that anything that happened to her was a result of that. That her actions have severely screwed up another person’s life because the law became involved in it due to – horrors – a gun being used instead of an inanimate object like a tree is almost as sad as if she killed someone else with her vehicle.

      Bravo Jack, beautifully put and I agree one billion percent.

      Personally, I believe that Ted Wafer has earned some benefit of the doubt and some leeway by being a law-abiding, working, home owning member of society. I think he merits some compassion and understanding given the fact that he was peacefully and deeply asleep in his own home, and was suddenly awoken and put in a state of fear by the irrational, frantic, frightening actions of the criminal, Renisha McBride.

      This is not someone who sought this situation. This is not someone who was prepared for it in any way. He had someone come onto his property, uninvited and unwanted, and she was attempting to gain entry. I have no doubt that if she’d knocked like a sane person, or rang the doorbell, she would’ve been in zero danger of being shot dead.

      But she wasn’t there in need of help. She had an aunt who lived a block away from where her car had wrecked. She had the owner of that car offering her help and calling an ambulance and police. She didn’t want that kind of help, because it came bundled with consequences for her extremely reckless, highly illegal crimes.

      So instead, she continued her string of irresponsible, illegal acts and fled the scene of her crime, and wandered off into the night. She wasn’t content to ruin just her life, no… she needed to find someone else to drag down with her. Mr. Wafer had the horrible luck of being that person.

      Could he have acted differently? Could he have kept his cool and handled the situation better? Sure. But personally, I’m not inclined to hold a man who was not even fully awake and had fear and adrenaline coursing through his veins due to HER actions, to a very high standard of conduct. As I said, I’m prepared to be pretty understanding given his choices and his situation.

      And I’m not prepared to be very understanding or sympathetic toward her because of her choices. Once upon a time, most of society understood how to identify those members who are beneficial, and those who are detrimental. And most of society understood how crucial it is that the greater society turn its back on those who are detrimental, and treat them harshly. We’ve seen where endless excuse making and coddling of miscreants has gotten us. Detroit itself is a wonderful case study of that.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      “Remember, there was a time when people just bought and fired guns without having to jump through a thousand hoops.”

      Negligence in gun safety is not the same a government intervention.

      “These people really don’t know much about guns beyond point-and-click.”

      So are you saying that just because we have become more aware of the need for good gun safety since we used to be less aware that should justify someone negligently causing someones death? As far as I am concerned Wafer should have been treating the gun like it was loaded and if he shot “by accident” then that is him being negligent, not intentionally defending himself. Causing a death due to negligence is a crime and that certainly looks like what happened here so far.

      “Nobody in their right mind would do what she did. Yes, she was so drunk she may not have been in her right mind, but that isn’t Wafer’s fault or his responsibility. It’s McBride’s fault.”

      You realize that is practically the same argument as “if Zimmerman had stayed in his truck”, right?

      Accidentally shooting someone is not the same as intentional self defense, because most accidents are due to negligence. You can’t have an intentional accident. Negligence that causes death is usually a crime.

      I am not defending McBrides’ behavior and I am just sickened that Wafer may end up in jail, but if he gets there from his own negligence, I can’t argue with that outcome.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 26, 2014 at 12:55 am

        I don’t agree that Wafer negligently caused someone’s death. McBride negligently caused her own death by scaring the hell out of a sleeping person at 4:30 in the morning in a suburb close to Detroit because of her frightening behavior. We don’t know what further threat she posed because she got shot dead before she could proceed. Dearborn heights has a crime rate of 125 per sq. mile. Michigan’s average is 36 and the national median is 39.3 per sq. mile. It seems to me Wafer had good cause for alarm.

        “You realize that is practically the same argument as “if Zimmerman had stayed in his truck”, right?”

        Wrong. Zimmerman was on property he had a legal right to be on, just as Wafer was in his house. In fact, I would offer that those who claim Wafer should have just kept the door shut are, in essence, making the same claim that Zimmerman should have just stayed in his car. In hindsight, would those both have been the wiser courses to choose? Probably so, but that’s because the laws pertaining to gun ownership, usage, transport, and self-defense are outrageously difficult for a layperson to understand (that’s why they should buy Andrew’s book 😉 ) ‘in the moment’.

        “Accidentally shooting someone is not the same as intentional self defense, because most accidents are due to negligence. You can’t have an intentional accident. Negligence that causes death is usually a crime.”

        I realize that is the law, but the law is an ass. In this case, under this specific set of circumstances, whether he intended to shoot her or she was shot accidentally should not matter. She put herself there and then conducted herself in such a way as to frighten the hell out of someone so badly that they either shot her on purpose or accidentally. It doesn’t matter to me, and I don’t give a damn what the law says. I would never find this man guilty even if I was the lone juror voting NG and we had to stay sequestered for six months because of it.

        “I am not defending McBrides’ behavior and I am just sickened that Wafer may end up in jail, but if he gets there from his own negligence, I can’t argue with that outcome.”

        I understand that many feel as you do and I believe you feel sorry for Wafer and think it’s wrong that he may end up in jail. That’s your conscience and your sense of right and wrong speaking to you quietly in your heart. In conflict with that, you are regurgitating the law as you understand it in the context of this, and that’s because you and many others accept laws that are so harsh and rigid as to even consider prosecuting this man. I know that you’re no gun-grabber – far from it – but I do think you have sipped just a few drops of the Kool-Aid, with absolutely no personal offense intended.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 26, 2014 at 5:50 pm

          “I know that you’re no gun-grabber – far from it – but I do think you have sipped just a few drops of the Kool-Aid, with absolutely no personal offense intended.”

          Actually I am pretty much a 2nd amendment absolutist, to me most gun laws are actually unconstitutional.

          However, I believe in personal freedom tempered by personal responsibility. If you are going to own a gun you bear responsibility for what happens with that gun, especially when it is in your own hands.

          I am not saying McBride is faultless, but she is the one who lost her life and part of that is due to what appears thus far to be Wafer’s negligence.

“But if he believed that the gun was unloaded, then so far as he knew it couldn’t present a risk of death or g.b.h. ”

Good luck convincing a jury that a shotgun “believed” to be unloaded doesn’t represent a threat of death or grave bodily harm. Purportedly unloaded guns kill people all the time. Why “All guns are always [considered to be] loaded,” and “never let your muzzle sweep something you’re unwilling to see destroyed.”

In any case, the belief was mistaken, and the higher standard of care demanded when inherently dangerous instruments like firearms are being handled doesn’t allow one to escape with an “oopsie” when the gun discharges.

Only one person the world was in a position to know for certain whether that gun was loaded–and that person is Theodore Wafer.

I have a student being criminal charged right now for an AD in his house that went through his window and smacked into his neighbor’s garage. No personal injury, miniscule property damage (other than his own window), and he’s been criminally charged with reckless endangerment. And a conviction seems likely.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    tom swift in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    In any case, the belief was mistaken, and the higher standard of care demanded when inherently dangerous instruments like firearms are being handled doesn’t allow one to escape with an “oopsie” when the gun discharges.

    That answers my question, thanks.

I don’t believe it being an accidental shooting and self-defense are mutually exclusive, actually. Let me explain:

If we take Wafer at his word about what happened, he opened the door thinking there were multiple people trying to break into his house. Let’s say he’s opening the door to scare them off, let them know someone’s home, armed, and prepared to defend the property. Auxiliary reason for opening it is in case he’s wrong and someone needs help, in other words… to find out what is going on out there.

He opens the door, at nobody is there. But there is substantial damage to the screen door, this is what his defense attorney said in her opening. Then, from the side suddenly a figure appears right in front of him, and he fires the gun.

Now, how can this both be an accident and self-defense? Because if at the moment he fired the gun he was truly in legitimate and reasonable fear, because one of the people trying to break into his house had rapidly appeared right in front of him, then that could be a reasonable self-defense shot.

However, from Wafer’s perspective he didn’t feel that he had consciously decided to shoot, because it had been a reflex reaction to the threat. It had been an instinctive, instantaneous, primal act of self-defense when the threat rapidly reappeared.

To Wafer’s higher consciousness this would feel like an accident, especially after he saw that it was a lone female, no weapon in hand, and he had time to come down from the adrenaline and start questioning what he’d done. But his regrets and doubts upon gaining more information later do not impact the reasonableness (or lack thereof) of what he did at that moment in time.

We must not judge him on information he didn’t have at that moment, even if he himself ended up judging his earlier self in exactly that same way!

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Frankly, that is all a bunch of psycho babble bunk. At this point by his own recorded admission he was negligent in his handling of a deadly weapon. By the standards of good gun safety he was negligent of his handling of a firearm and someone lost their life, even I would agree with a manslaughter conviction at this point.

      Laser Beam in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      “Frankly, that is all a bunch of psycho babble bunk.”

      No, no it really isn’t. In order to understand what I’m talking about all you need to be able to understand is the idea that you could fire at what you honestly believed to be a threat to your life but after the threat was neutralized and you had more information (saw it was a female, saw it was a young female, unarmed female… female alone…) and the adrenaline and fear of the situation was subsiding.. and you were waking up more… that you could start to question your own earlier action, and in trying to make sense of why you’d done it (because you’re now removed from the immediacy of that situation) you make sense of it by using stupid, dangerous words around a police officer like “accident.”

      At that time, he probably felt like talking about accidents and not knowing the gun was loaded was a way of distancing himself from the action, when in reality it was the worst thing he could say.

      And again, it’s not psycho babble. I’m appealing to very, very basic understandings of how fear and the human mind work. It’s not as though I’m talking about how him shooting her revealed a deep seated attraction to his mother and latent homosexuality or something.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm

        I do understand what you are saying and I have more than 10 years experience as a psych-nurse. I understand post-traumatic stress and situationial stress reactions, which is what you are talking about.

        “you make sense of it by using stupid, dangerous words around a police officer like “accident.””

        Yes, you might, unfortunately those stupid and dangerous words can get you sent to jail for the rest of your life.

        Also, in hindsight to a Jury those words can be seen a negligence or worse lies.

        Which is why anyone who intends to own a gun for self defense should think about those things ahead of time. I recently had the pleasure of being able to attend Andrew’s workshop in Memphis and he does a great job of highlighting the aftermath and what can happen.

        I also tend to think that in those fear states people revert to type. Wafer seems like a honest, hard working, God fearing man so my tendency in this case would be to believe that his words right after to the police have more of a chance of being the truth than a fabrication.

        In one of Massad Ayoob’s books (I think “In the Gravest Extreme”), he describes the case of a police officer who did an entirely justifiable self defense shoot, but was shaken enough that he described it to first responders in terms of “the gun just went off”, perhaps because he shot almost in reflex without pausing to think it through, or because he felt that passing it off as an accident was somehow more legally or morally forgivable. In any case, the careless statement turned a slam-dunk self defense finding into an uphill battle against a negligent manslaughter charge.

          Laser Beam in reply to Ichneumon. | July 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

          Thank you for mentioning it Ichneumon because that is EXACTLY what I’m talking about here.

          I think Wafer likely is following the same trajectory that officer did.

And we again have solid evidence that the ONE GOLDEN RULE of post shooting should never be violated. And that rule is: If you shoot someone, SHUT UP! Don’t talk to POlice. “I didn’t know there was a round in there”. “I didn’t mean to shoot”. ALL phrases that will get you CONVICTED. If the DEFENDANT had not uttered those words, he might not even be on trial.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Fiftycaltx. | July 26, 2014 at 1:48 am

    You are exactly right. The reason you are right is because the laws are so slanted against the shooter. The laws are too harsh and too rigid and too frightening for somebody to even know when they can defend themselves with lethal force without being imprisoned and bankrupted.

    There is little or no compassion in most states’ laws for the homeowner or somebody walking down the street minding his or her own business.

inspectorudy | July 24, 2014 at 4:58 pm

To me he relinquished the self defense argument when he opened the door. No person who felt that their life was at risk would ever open a solid door leaving only a screen door between you and the threat. I think that he will have to live with the “It was an accident” and take the consequences.

    Laser Beam in reply to inspectorudy. | July 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    So all those times the old man grabs his shotgun and heads outside to see “what all the ruckus is” and run off the troublemakers, he was relinquishing his right to self-defense by doing so? It’s still his property and someone is still rudely awakening him in the middle of the night in a highly irregular and disruptive way.

    Let’s say Wafer wakes up and he 75% thinks it could be some people trying to break in, but 25% thinks “well, maybe it’s someone who desperately needs help, or someone I know” – you don’t think it’s valid for him to get his weapon in case the 75% is right, but open the door in case the 25% is right?

    He doesn’t have a right on his own property to open his own door and see what’s going on? To show the home invaders, if that is what they are, that he is home, armed, and ready to defend his property? Dissuade them from returning and encourage them to get the hell out of there?

    I’m not even addressing the issue of him actually firing the gun, we’re setting that aside for the moment because you said merely opening the door took away any argument of self-defense on his part and I think that’s immensely silly.

    Let’s make it even more clear how silly that is: what if he’d opened the door and someone was standing there with a pick axe, and started charging toward him? Well, too bad old Teddy boy, because you opened the door.

    And George, you got out of your truck.

    So… anything done to you from that point on is fair game, just lay down and take it. Because a completely legal action you took earlier on looks to us like it played a pivotal role in how things went south, using our hindsight.

      “you said merely opening the door took away any argument of self-defense on his part”

      Who said that?

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        Laser Beam in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm

        “Who said that?”

        inspectorudy in the comment I replied to when he said: “To me he relinquished the self defense argument when he opened the door.”

        At least, that’s how I took it. You read it differently?

          “At least, that’s how I took it. You read it differently?”

          I’m pretty sure he speaks for himself.

          There’s a few billion others of us out here.

          It’s quite possible to rationally believe that opening the door does not eliminate a claim of self-defense while acknowledging that it doing so unleashes a firestorm of negative legal and experiential consequences.

          Had Wafer simply stayed behind his locked door and been patient nobody would ever know who he was.

          I’m pretty sure that given the choice he’d now choose THAT option over what he currently has.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Laser Beam in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 5:56 pm

          “It’s quite possible to rationally believe that opening the door does not eliminate a claim of self-defense while acknowledging that it doing so unleashes a firestorm of negative legal and experiential consequences.”

          Agreed, and I believe that too.

          “Had Wafer simply stayed behind his locked door and been patient nobody would ever know who he was.

          I’m pretty sure that given the choice he’d now choose THAT option over what he currently has.”

          All reasonable statements and I don’t disagree. What I took issue with was someone flatly stating that “To me he relinquished the self defense argument when he opened the door.”

          That I cannot agree with.

          inspectorudy in reply to Laser Beam. | July 25, 2014 at 12:32 pm

          I think maybe you have had a little too much coffee. Did you notice the words “To me”? That was my opinion and it has no weight except to convey my opinion. Of course there is more than one view to this issue but TO ME if I felt threatened by someone banging on my front door at 4:00 AM and feared for my life I am certain I would not remove the protection afforded me by the front door! You on the other hand may be the curious type and lifts the lid on the box placed at your front door step TICKING!

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Laser Beam. | July 26, 2014 at 2:05 am

          Andrew @5:47

          The same was said about Zimmerman – that had he waited or gone to his car he wouldn’t have been attacked and Trademark would still be alive.

          Wafer was in his house, asleep, when McBride brought all hell to his home and broke it loose.

          Neither of them chose the wisest, simplest course, but both were certainly well within their rights to act as they did.

          As for possibly not knowing the shotgun was loaded, well, what if Zimmerman thought his gun was loaded but it wasn’t? He’d be dead or a vegetable. Who’s to say that wouldn’t have been the outcome for Wafer that night as well had his shotgun not been loaded? Setting aside McBride’s previous criminal acts that night, her behavior at the Wafer home was so frightening and bizarre, especially at that hour, to scare any average sleeping person out of their wits.

          The law is controlling this case, but the human element is being lost in it. The laws at play in this case demand total infallibility from anyone who pulls a trigger.

          And that’s just the way the Left wants it.

Interesting how it was ok for Wafer to be confrontational, not retreat use deadly force on an unarmed person.

Walker not ok to be confrontational, should’ve retreated and shouldn’t have used deadly force on an unarmed person.

    Laser Beam in reply to m1. | July 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Who is Walker?

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Laser Beam. | July 24, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Walker is the New Jersey cop who shot someone on the side of the road and is currently on trial in Maryland for murder.

      m1 ignores the facts and the completely different situations so that he can find a reason to call those that are “Anti-Walker” racist. Its best just to ignore him.

        Laser Beam in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        That’s pretty standard, I’ve noticed.

        People who are constantly looking for an excuse to call someone “racist” love to pretend like these self-defense (or attempts to claim self-defense) cases are all exactly identical, except that you swap out the races.

        Of course, this isn’t even remotely true. These cases tend to be highly particular and the details matter immensely. If nobody knew the races involved in McBride, Michael Dunn, and Trayvon Martin, and only had access to the bare facts with “Person A” and “Person B” instead of race/age/gender information, who would be drawing any sort of connection between these cases? Nobody. Who would be trying to tie Marissa Alexander to them? Nobody. These cases are HIGHLY PARTICULAR in their facts, as I said. And these facts and circumstances are incredibly important to the legal determinations.

        But they’ll just keep pretending those who pay attention to the details in each particular case and react accordingly are the “racists” when meanwhile they’re the ones who determine their support for the black person based entirely on the person being black, and then go from there.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 26, 2014 at 7:07 am

        Agree. His agenda renders him irrelevant to the discussion.

“Interesting how it was ok for Wafer to be confrontational, not retreat use deadly force on an unarmed person.”

I believe Wafer is currently on trial for second degree murder–and looks likely to lose.

That’s your definition of OK?

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

I think it’s easier if you break Wafer’s steps up into single actions and determine if each one is justified and legal.

Condition: There is a loud hammering on his front door.
Action: Retrieve a shotgun. Legal: Yes, this is his house. He has the right to carry his gun around the house. Justified: High-crime neighborhood, so yes.
Action: Open the front door. Legal+Justified: Same
Action: Point the gun at the intruder. Legal: Yes, to a point. The intruder is on his property, conducting herself in a hostile manner. If she had been outside the property, or politely knocking, the act of pointing a gun at her would be less tolerated by the law, but given the situation, I see no legal problem with pointing a gun at a misbehaving intruder in all probability to enforce a certain demand to “Get off my lawn.” Now is it Justified? Well, if you abide by the Left’s definition of self-defense, no, because he did not hide in the closet when the front door was being hammered on and call 911, hoping that the police would arrive in an hour or two. In my opinion, he was justified to this point. It’s stupid to open your door in that high-crime neighborhood without some form of encouragement to make the criminal leave, and just as stupid to leave the criminal wander around your property, looking for an unlocked door or window.

Now at this point, the gun goes off. I don’t see this being intentional, but a tragic accident that could have been avoided, i.e. criminally negligent manslaughter, and not second degree murder as he is being prosecuted. (but I’m not a lawyer)

    “just as stupid to leave the criminal wander around your property, looking for an unlocked door or window”

    Speculation does not a self-defense argument make.

    Is there ANY evidence that McBride was wandering around his property looking for an unlocked door or window?

    Coulda, woulda, mighta are not legal arguments. They’re not arguments at all. They’re unicorn farts and fairy dust.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Laser Beam in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 24, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      “Speculation does not a self-defense argument make.

      Is there ANY evidence that McBride was wandering around his property looking for an unlocked door or window?

      Coulda, woulda, mighta are not legal arguments. They’re not arguments at all. They’re unicorn farts and fairy dust.”

      Andrew I respect your arguments a lot but not this time.

      C’mon now, you know better than anyone that his state of mind and what he knew or was thinking about the situation when he took these actions are all highly relevant to the jury’s determination about those actions.

      Hence the defense attorney spending an awful lot of time talking about Wafer’s “speculation” as he heard pounding on multiple doors/sides of his house.

      Are you trying to say that constructing a speculative scenario in order to help the jury understand your client’s mindset and actions isn’t a valid and crucial part of defending them? After all, as this defense attorney also mentioned in her opening, it’s about what he believed and knew at the time, and whether that was reasonable and genuine. And she pointed out that Michigan law says that it does not matter if his beliefs as to the danger level are later shown to have been beyond the actuality of the danger.

      So while speculation may not make a self-defense argument alone, I certainly think it’s part of doing so. At least in a case like this.

        “Hence the defense attorney spending an awful lot of time talking about Wafer’s “speculation” as he heard pounding on multiple doors/sides of his house.”

        If Wafer takes the stand and testifies to his actual knowledge of local crime, his state of mind at the time of the event, and his reasonable fear based on those factors, THEN IT’S EVIDENCE.

        Until then, it’s speculation.

        What Wafer’s defense counsel says in opening and closing statements IS NOT EVIDENCE, and the jury is (and already has been) told as much.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Laser Beam. | July 25, 2014 at 4:54 pm

        If McBride had been going around the property knocking on different doors and/or windows, it would be very reasonable to a sleeping man to believe there was more than one person outside trying to come in.

          Fair point. I’ve not heard evidence of that.

          Don’t see how evidence of that could possibly come into court unless Wafer takes the stand–only he would possess that knowledge.

          Although I did see where defense tried to suggest there was a footprint on an air conditioner as if to suggest someone stood atop it, perhaps to enter the house–but that’s going to be too removed form the event unless can be specifically associated, I think.

          Hard to see how Wafer avoids the witness stand.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          I strongly suspect Wafer WANTS to take the witness stand, and I actually see that as almost certainly being pure positive for the defense, and negative for the prosecution.

          If he’s smart, he’s going to explain the “accident” angle as retroactively thinking of it as such once he saw it was a solitary unarmed young female, and trying to make sense of what happened, and feeling awful, but that at the time he shot he was in legitimate fear.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm

          @LaserBeam

          I really wish history agreed with you, but from the cases I read the defendant testifying usually doesn’t turn out to well. Maybe Andrew can shed some more light on this he has read 1000’s more cases than my less than 100.

          Defendant’s testifying are usually a disaster. Prosecutors are skilled at goading such defendant-witnesses into outbursts–sarcasm, inuendo, lying, etc. Hard for anybody to take.

          But that outburst is exactly the opposite of what the defendant needs to present in the context of a self-defense case.

          Or that defendant just presents terribly to the jury, e.g., Dunn.

          Rarely a good idea. But sometimes necessary, e.g., Dunn.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          I thought Dunn did a fantastic job on the stand. Unless there’s something a juror said after the fact that I don’t remember or didn’t hear, I wouldn’t be surprised if his time on the stand helps account for him not getting convicted on Davis’ death.

          Perhaps nothing he was going to say up there was going to get him off on the three attempted murder charges, he may have just been too cornered in the juror’s minds by the bare facts of what had taken place.

          Personally, I thought Dunn should walk and I thought he did great on the stand. However, I admit that his case was a hard one to feel very good about. I waffled back and forth on it somewhat.

          I strongly suspect what was happening to Zimmerman in the national and local media at that time was playing somewhere in Dunn’s mind when he was making those fateful decisions about not calling police right away, etc.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 26, 2014 at 2:10 am

          Andrew, that’s probably the case (that Wafer would have to testify to that) but perhaps we will get neighbor testimony about that topic.

          She may have awakened others close by the Wafer home.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to georgfelis. | July 25, 2014 at 1:41 am

    Nobody knows what McBride’s intent was beyond what she had already done because Wafer eliminated that opportunity.

    Her next idea may have been to break his window and just go in to…use the phone? Borrow some booze? Take a bath? Heat up a snack? Ransack the house? Pick up an object and bash in the head of anybody who tried to stop her? Who knows?

    We can see by her actions earlier that night that she didn’t care one whit about anything or anyone except fulfilling her own needs moment to moment.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 25, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Yes, but you can’t claim self defense when using deadly force to stop a future threat, so what she might have done is not relevant.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 26, 2014 at 2:42 am

        I’m not saying it was. I’m simply saying that her behavior was already perceptibly threatening enough for a normal, average person – not a cop, not a soldier – to be frightened of what might be next.

        Why didn’t McBride wait/sleep it off behind a building until a decent hour and then politely ask someone for a little help by making a call for her or borrowing a phone?

        When nobody answered the door right away, why didn’t McBride turn and walk away? Do you think Wafer would have opened the door and shot her in the back? Why didn’t SHE recognize that she was putting herself in danger by behaving like that?

        The people in this country are so indoctrinated into excusing outrageous or frightening behavior that the blame always falls on some poor bastard who’s just trying to live quietly, peacefully, pay their taxes and watch a ball game.

        Do you really believe McBride had no culpability in her own death? When, oh when, are we going to start holding people accountable for their own actions that lead to their deaths and injuries? Did it all start with the burglar who injured himself falling through a skylight, sued and won through settlement? We are in this mode of thinking that it’s always someone else’s fault, no matter how bad the behavior of the miscreant is, because SOMEBODY else has to be blamed and SOMEBODY else has to pay the lawyers who file these suits, and suffer the judges that won’t summarily dismiss them, and suffer the really, really stupid jurors who buy into the BS. Those who defend themselves successfully are not compensated for their legal expenses by the plaintiffs so the PI lawyers always win. Even if a defendant settles to avoid more costs, the lawyers still win.

        This case is a criminal case but it’s really no different, ethically speaking. The charges should never have been filed. And BTW, I’m sure McBride’s family is salivating to file a lawsuit against Wafer and get a judgment, take his house, his wages until the day he dies if he’s not imprisoned, and whatever his insurance will pay, assuming he has any.

        When all that has happened, I hope that everybody faulting a sleeping man for allegedly making an alleged mistake at 4:30am will be satisfied.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 26, 2014 at 5:55 pm

          “Do you think Wafer would have opened the door and shot her in the back?”

          Well, no since I have pretty much said I don’t think he meant to shoot her at all.

          “Do you really believe McBride had no culpability in her own death?”

          No, I do believe that her behavior helped lead to her death. How could it not? However, her behavior does not excuse his apparent negligence.

healthguyfsu | July 24, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I am on the fence here. I feel like the fact that she was trespassing violently (banging on the door at 4am) on private property is almost completely overlooked.

Should have lived in Texas.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 25, 2014 at 1:50 am

    I agree. Few seem to notice what McBride did to bring about her own death. Wafer, an apparently decent working man asleep at 4:30am, is supposed to be an expert in weaponry because he’s got a shotgun in the house. Why? because the gungrabbers, through our beloved government, want ANY gun owner to be thrashed, bankrupted and imprisoned anytime someone dies, especially if the dead person is black and the shooter is white. Just ask Eric Holder.

    I guess we should all be fine with drunken psychos ripping our screen doors off, then beating on the door continually and yelling loudly and repeatedly at 4:30am. After all, it’s an Obama world now.

      When it comes to McBride her own actions play a part of causing her to be shot to death. The emphasis isn’t on the shooter.

      However,when someone asked about Harvey,it was determined that his actions didn’t deserve to be a cause of his death. The emphasis is on the shooter.

      You also throw in a falsehood about Pres Obama and AG Holder.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to m1. | July 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

        Here’s a $1. Go buy a clue.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to m1. | July 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

        (Wow, this is gonna hurt.)

        In this instance you are correct, her previous actions that night only really matter if Wafer knew about them, just as Harvey’s prior criminal record only mattered if Walker knew about them. Which is what I have kind of been saying.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 26, 2014 at 3:59 am

          It wouldn’t matter if Wafer did know about McBride’s earlier grossly negligent acts. But they are relevant in explaining her wild, out of control behavior at Wafer’s home, which buttresses the version of McBride’s behavior that Wafer was confronted with a couple hours later.

          Crystal Gayle Mangum walked away legally unscathed from the horrific lies and accusation she made against three Duke University lacrosse players. She, too, was never held accountable. The entire case was Thomas Wolfe’s Bonfires of the Vanities come to life. She is in prison for murder now, which was her second serious arrest after the lacrosse case. Maybe the man she killed would still be alive but for her having been given carte blanche to commit further outrageous behaviors by getting a pass in the lacrosse case.

          Why do so few want to consider McBride’s behavior that night at the Wafer house and, whether admissible or not but for the sake of our discussions, simply not even mention it or her earlier demonstrated behavior as evidence of the element of her behavior that goes to Wafer’s state of mind at the time he was confronted with McBride at his home?

          Do society and the law view such behavior by black women as so mundane and stereotypical that it’s not worth factoring in to these cases? Do we just excuse it?

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 26, 2014 at 4:01 am

          ugh…Can somebody close my italic? Sorry.

      “I agree. Few seem to notice what McBride did to bring about her own death.”

      My point exactly in the case of Joseph Harvey. Except that Harvey was far more culpable.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to bildung. | July 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm

        Harvey was visibly unarmed and was dealing with a trained peace officer who had several routes of retreat in a moving vehicle. He chose to stop in order to sucker bull-headed Harvey to get close enough to take a killing shot that he could pass off as self-defense.

        Rumble strips, my butt.

          Preposterous. Absurd.

          So we’re to believe Walker got so mad over road rage and being called a ‘n….r’ that he decided to do a murder right in front of his wife and children.

          Ridiculous.

          Some evidence of that sort of temperament would have already manifested itself in Walker’s past–none exists I’m aware of–but plenty of evidence of that very sort of violent aggressiveness characterizes the woman beating, brawling drunkard Harvey.

          Harvey had every opportunity in the world to disengage–more so than Walker–he simply blustered his fool ass straight to his own death.

          I have no problem with your view of McBride–dead mopes don’t bother me a bit–but the stupendous hypocrisy of yourself and others towards Walker/Harvey is explained by….what exactly?

          Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 25, 2014 at 7:17 pm

          @Bildung

          “So we’re to believe Walker got so mad over road rage and being called a ‘n….r’ that he decided to do a murder right in front of his wife and children.”

          It is a possibility for any human to become so enraged that all rational thought becomes impossible. Now, I don’t believe that is what happened in Walkers case. I think he was thinking that since he was a cop he could handle the situation even though he was out of his jurisdiction and it just went horribly, horribly wrong.

          “I’m aware of–but plenty of evidence of that very sort of violent aggressiveness characterizes the woman beating, brawling drunkard Harvey.”

          Which in this case could only have factored into Walkers decisions if he knew of Harvey’s past, which he did not. It also doesn’t change the fact that Harvey was unarmed and had to advance over 150 feet to get to Walker, which gave him more than ample time to retreat or to call the cops.

          “Harvey had every opportunity in the world to disengage–”

          Yes, he did and Walker could have driven backwards down the shoulder or just waited for the fat out of shape guy to get more than 50 feet from his car and then gunned it past him. But instead he shot and killed an unarmed man, that just doesn’t look good no matter which way you slice it.

          “more so than Walker”

          Now that is a ridiculous statement, they both had ample opportunity to disengage and chose not to do so.

          “he simply blustered his fool ass straight to his own death.”

          Oh, now I get it. So if someone goes out and pisses someone off and gets shot its their own fault. Gotcha!

          “dead mopes don’t bother me a bit”

          I don’t even know what that one means man.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | July 26, 2014 at 3:10 am

          “I have no problem with your view of McBride–dead mopes don’t bother me a bit–but the stupendous hypocrisy of yourself and others towards Walker/Harvey is explained by….what exactly?”

          Heh. Well, Officer Bildung, it’s nice to see you’ve come out of the closet.

          Are/were you Walker’s partner, co-worker, or just an old cop defending another cop to hold onto the Blue Wall?

          (for those of you unaware, “mope” is a term used by cops back in the day to refer to somebody who’s a lousy citizen or lightweight criminal/con or general slob parasite on society. It’s still used by the old broke-dick cops trying to push another year or two onto their retirement and a few younger ones who think it’s cool to use the cop slang of the good ol’ days)

Text to Resurrect Revolution

Countee Cullen
and I are of this consensus:
Prejudice drafts psychopaths.
Their warpaths
transfix our people to many a crucifix.
There resides the reason why
my protest must never relax
from typing its attacks.

Addressed to your psyche,
my compositions are microphones for
Emmett Till, Michael Griffith,
Yusef Hawkins, Amadou Diallo,
Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham,
Trayvon Martin, Darius Simmons,
Jordan Davis and Renisha McBride.

Addressed to your psyche,
you can hear the murdered entreat:
“Don’t allow another name to join
a homicide report sheet.
Don’t allow another name to join
a homicide report sheet.”

Addressed to your psyche,
the compositions
I’ve written are parts of a bulletin,
the passages transmit
to our terra firma’s retina.

Addressed to your psyche,
my protest wants life
to evict the combustive
and discriminative.
If armed with you,
Lawfulness will live.

by Bob McNeil
Copyright 2014

http://frankandpoe.blogspot.com/2014/04/first-place-poem.html

@ Bildung

While I wouldn’t refer to anyone McBride or Harvey as dead mopes,you’re correct on the stupendous hypocrisy being displayed here.

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