Jury selection begins today in the murder trial of Detroit homeowner Theodore Wafer, as reported in the Detroit Free Press. Wafer shot and killed Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old black woman, on his front porch. Wafer is claiming self-defense.

The most recent news in the Wafer case was the June 27 denial by trial judge Dana Margaret Hathaway of defense requests to have McBride’s cell phone texts and a map illustrating local crime incidents admitted into evidence (Judge Bars Cellphone Texts, Crime Map From Evidence in Renisha McBride Case).

The cell phone texts suggested that McBride, the victim in the shooting, might have been engaged in the dealing of marijuana the night she was shot.  Such evidence could potentially be relevant in this self-defense case if it suggested a potential for violence on the part of McBride, but the judge ruled that it failed to do so.

The judge also denied a motion by the defense to admit into evidence a “crime map’ of Wafer’s neighborhood. Based upon police reports of local crime, it illustrated the local crime incidents with large markers over a broad area around Wafer’s home.

A high rate of local crime could potentially be relevant as to Wafer’s state of mind at the time he shot McBride.  Of course, it could only have done so if Wafer actually possessed this knowledge at the time of the shooting. Judge Hathaway declined to allow the map to be used for that purpose, stating: “What matters to me is what the defendant actually knew [about nearby crimes], testimony from him and his neighbors.”

 How the Michigan Porch Shooting case may be defended

Analysis: Self-Defense Claim May be Legally Weak in Michigan Porch Shooting

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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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