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Detroit Front Porch Shooting Case: Day 5 Mid-Day Wrap-Up

Detroit Front Porch Shooting Case: Day 5 Mid-Day Wrap-Up

Detective suggests Wafer should have shot purported “second attacker;” defense pounds on evidence collection and analysis; Medical examiner on direct examination

We’re back for day 5 of the second degree murder trial of Theodore Wafer in the shooting death of Renisha McBride on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013. As has been the case since mid-day of day 1, Judge Hathaway still refuses the trial to be live-streamed.

Detective Sgt. Stephen Gurka, Dearborn Heights PD, on Cross-Examination


Dr. Kilak Kesha, Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner, Performed Autopsy





As promised, here’s Dr. Kesha’s autopsy report of Renisha McBride:


We’ll be back this evening with out end-of-day wrap-up of day 5 of the trial.

–-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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MouseTheLuckyDog | July 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm

This case is getting more bizarre. So the detective is suggesting that Wafer should have shot someone?

    Char Char Binks in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    That comment isn’t so bizarre in context; he meant Wafer could have been justified in shooting the person who was trying to break into his house, if there was such a person (possibly the one who left the footprint on the AC unit).

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Char Char Binks. | July 30, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      The point is though that the cop said it was OK was OK for him to shoot someone trying to break in through a window, but the prosecution is saying it’s not OK to shoot someone trying to break in through the front door.

        Char Char Binks in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm

        There’s a big difference between banging on a door, even at 4 a.m., and breaking into a house. Kind of like the difference between telling someone to get lost and shooting someone.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 30, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    I think this falls in the realm of the detective just being a smart ass to an attorney questioning his actions.

seems there is a lot gurka didn’t think to do.

thought with a shotgun soot/stippling would go out 6 ft from 12g.
none of it there seems sort of odd.

to test I just put a 12g 2 3/4 buckshot AND birdshot onto a pcs of new (clean) 1/2″ plywood (ruined it..shot top and bottom) at 5.5 to 6 feet and saw soot and wad remnants.
I did have wind at my back, prob 5mph wind so that could make difference.
heh, I next combined the 2 pcs by cutting each in half and then screwing together and then put 2 rounds centurion 823 buck and ball to it. literally nothing left 🙂
tossed into burn pit.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to dmacleo. | July 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Did you shoot it through a screen door?

      no but these follow the shot so there should be little difference as there would heve been hole/tears there at that point.
      maybe enough in this instance though, depends on how much was left on the screen I guess.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to dmacleo. | July 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

        The ME tstified that stippling wouldn’t wash off, but if it went through a screen door it could cool enough so that it would wash off. Remember it was raining that night.

          but a lot of it wouldn’t have gone through the screen due to the actual shot tearing hole(s) in it. IOW there would have been many areas in a direct line to her unobstructed by the screen.

          I am wondering if shorter barrel or unchoked shotgun has a weaker stippling range due to barrel pressure.
          I have no way to test that and since its been 20+ years since I took any forensic classes I do not remember those details.

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

          @dmacleo, but that stippling would most likely hit the body near where the shot hit. Greatly reducing it. The only real way to know is to fire through a screen and see what happens.

    Matthew Carberry in reply to dmacleo. | July 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Stippling takes time to spread out. if he shot her at a couple feet, not 4 or 5, most of it is going into the wound channel right behind the wad.

      ^^^ This ^^^

      Especially with that massive a cavity wound. The stippling’s there, all right, it’s just in her “pulpified” brain tissue, to quote the ME.

      In any case, rain wouldn’t have any appreciable effect on stippling, at least for the time durations relevant here, because stippling tends to be bits of unburned powder that penetrate under the skin, much like tattoo ink. It’s really in there.

      Soot, on the other hand, is on the surface, and much more subject to being wiped off.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Oh my. This is great impeachment for the defense (quoted from above). I can’t believe he said that.

There were several highlights of today’s testimony, one in particular which was captured on video by the Detroit Free Press. When asked about the footprint on the air conditioner, which the defense suggests might have been an indication of someone trying to break into the house, Detective Sergeant Gurka suggested drily that perhaps that’s the person whom Wafer should have shot (key dialogue at 0:35):

If Michigan law is a Blood Alcohol Limit of 0.02 for those under 21. Why did Dr. Kesha claim McBride was only nearly 3.5x the legal limit.

She was 0.218 (and coming down), so that would mean she was at 11x the legal limit.

nearly 3.5x the limit would be almost 0.07. Well below the actual 0.218.

MouseTheLuckyDog | July 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm

There are many curious things happening today. So the mother actually got $100? Or says she did. I think it’s routine to photograph a victims belongings. So is there a photograph of it?

The coroner weighed the brain. So you would think he would have a count of the shot in the body, but only a third has been found.

There is drug house nearby?
Police are hiding from subpeona’s

    Gremlin1974 in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Without being to graphic. We know a few more things about the GSW now, frankly I am amazed that it didn’t just completely remove the side of her head. I do find it interesting that there was no exit wound but the wadding was found inside her head. To me that suggest that the wadding hadn’t really separated from the shot when it hit and with no exit wound, I have no idea where the rest of that shot could have gone.

    Also for her to still have a .218 BOA she must have been close to alcohol poisoning when she had the car crash or she found somewhere to go in the intervening hours and continued to drink.

Gremlin1974 | July 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I must say it doesn’t seem like a very good sign for the Detective to even have the Judge asking questions about his investigation, that seems like something that will stick with the Jury.

Frankly, the detective doesn’t see to be the best investigator in the world.

That being said I really haven’t seen anything from the defense that is gonna save Wafer from saying that he accidentally shot McBride.

I actually think I can picture what happened now. Wafer is going for the door, he has the shotgun right hand on the grip with finger on the trigger and left hand on the pump. The gun is pointing in an upward direction. Wafer is planning on opening the door and leveling the shotgun at whoever is there.

Wafer takes his left hand off of the pump to reach for the door knob and unlocks the door. As he uses his left hand to open the door he begins to lower the barrel of the shotgun. Now since it only had a pistol grip that means that Wafer is trying to control the entire weight of the shotgun with his right hand. I would guess the shotgun was coming down faster than he anticipated and he tightened his grip with his right hand and tried to get his left hand back on the pump.

Unfortunately, he still had his finger in the trigger guard and when his right hand tightened so did his right index finger that was setting on the trigger and BANG.

Or that is my unprofessional and armature forensic recreation of events. He was just going to use it as a tool of intimidation, forgot there was a round in the chamber and it just went to crap. I bet his plan was if just seeing the gun didn’t work he would “rack the slide” and hope that worked. (Which believe me if you want to quiet a room quickly just cycle the action of most pump shotguns, you will command the attention of a good part if not all of the room.)

    A couple of decades as a firearms instructor, including shotgun and protection in the home, leads me to exactly the same conclusion.

    Especially if a staggeringly drunk McBride 11 time over the legal limit happened to stumble — e.g., lunge — right at the door the moment he opened it.

    As for the “accidental shooting” line–it’s true a self-defense shooting is a deliberate act, and an accidental shooting is not.

    I think the only thing that can save him from that pitfall is — hopefully it would be true — that what he MEANT by “accident” was “not intentional”. All accidents are unintentional, but not all unintentional acts are accidents–people can be shoved, an elbow can hit a door edge when they reel back from a lunging figure, a person’s normal flinch reaction can occur under reasonable circumstances. Those are quite different from a negligent discharge.

    Guess we’ll see how the evidence develops tomorrow.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    adkjfkjd in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Another view is that he had the gun in his hand and as he opened door intending only to see who is pounding on his door. A fist thrown toward him (McBride in her haze still pounding on the door) results in a fear of an attack, his muscle tense up and the trigger is pulled.

    *paraphrased from unknown site, otherwise I would credit the actual author.

Richard Aubrey | July 30, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I suspect the detective was making a smartass remark to make the case that the a/c perp, whoever it was, represented a legitimate target and, by comparison, the door issue did not.
It would be interesting to know how old the a/c footprint was and if Wafer knew about it. Or if he heard noise from there, making his fear of the door noise legitimate.