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Detroit Front-Porch Shooter Gets 17 to 32 Year Sentence

Detroit Front-Porch Shooter Gets 17 to 32 Year Sentence

The 55-year-old Wafer will be at least 72 years of age before being eligible for parole

Theodore Wafer, the Detroit-area man convicted of second degree murder for the shogun killing of a very drunk Renisha McBride on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013, has been sentenced to 17 to 32 years in prison, according to a report by the Indiana Gazette.

We covered Wafer’s trial closely here at Legal Insurrection.

This sentence, handed down by trial and sentencing judge Dana Hathaway, was the recommendation of the prosecution and appears to be the maximum permitted.  The 17 year threshold is when Wafer first becomes eligible for parole.

For the 55-year-old Wafer, ailing after a lifetime spent working primarily as a laborer, the sentence means he will 72 years old before release is even possible. His lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, had argued that given his poor health any sentence in excess of 10 years was effectively a “death sentence.”

Given an opportunity to make a statement at sentencing, an emotional Wafer said that he had killed a woman who was “too young to leave this world,” and that he “will carry that guilt and sorrow forever.”

–-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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Comments

Shoot when you’re terrified, not when you’re angry. Or you pay the price.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Mike R. | September 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

    It is possible to be both at the same time.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Mike R. | September 10, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    You realize of course that even with his conviction there is no evidence he shot in anger, right? His conviction was based on his own admission to the shooting being an accident. Try reading more than a crystal ball before you comment it will make you look less, well silly.

    “Shoot when you’re terrified, not when you’re angry.”

    Wrong.

    Shoot when you believe in your core, your ‘heart of hearts’, that you have no other way to go, no way to ‘not shoot’.

    The foot you shoot may be your own ANY TIME you point at a person and fire.

    jakee308 in reply to Mike R. | September 11, 2014 at 5:09 am

    And don’t talk to the cops about it.

    Ask politely to have an attorney present during any “interview”.

    You can relate certain details (but be very careful) to aid the immediate investigation but do not speak about your thoughts, feelings perceptions. Like I said be careful what you say.

    I say tell them nothing until you can have a lawyer with you. To me this is just common sense as you don’t know what you say may be misunderstood or be liable to get you in more trouble. Ask for an attorney to be present at any interview.

    Cops have a 24 – 72 waiting time before they must talk to investigators.

    There’s a reason why their Union demands this. They know the person shooting another is in shock afterwards, They know that details can be lost or misconstrued at an interview held immediately after. They know that anyone in that situation should have counseling and an objective person to listen to what happened before speaking to law enforcement.

    Just ask for what cops and citizens entitled to; counsel present during interview and time to recover from the trauma.

    (now down ding this one too)

Wafer is a textbook case of what not to do in a self-defense home invasion shooting.

Sadly for him, if this incident had happened in Houston Texas instead of Detroit, Wafer, despite his world class bumbling, might never have been prosecuted.

    counsel in reply to sequester. | September 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Wafer is one of those clients a lawyer must instruct to stand mute. From the little of what was relayed in the article about his statements to the Court, he did not help his appellate case.

    There is an aura of self-destructiveness about him. Appellate and Trial Courts rarely are sympathetic to such people. His own words will let an appellate court deem any errors made as “harmless”.

This is still absolute mockery of justice. She tried to break into his home. Maximum murder 2 sentencing on a classic overcharge….this is why Detroit is an American cesspool.

I may have misjudged the Michigan sentencing guidelines for second degree murder, but I believe the judge could have sentenced him to 13.5 years instead of the maximum. I feel that 13.5 years would be appropriate in this case under the circumstances.

Sad situation. Wafer’s freely offered statement about the shooting being an accident thoroughly did him in. The lesson here is, if you’re involved in a fatal shooting, keep your mouth shut — completely. If you say anything at all, say, “I’m not saying anything until I speak with an attorney.” That’s it. From a defendant’s perspective, absolutely nothing good comes from talking to cops in a situation such as this.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to guyjones. | September 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    The “say nothing” attitude is impractical and actually hurts your chances of a positive outcome. Its not saying something that does people in it is what they say that does them in. The key here is to be informed and know the laws, but just standing there and asking for a lawyer makes you look guilty not like the victim.

    Here are some video’s to help you become more informed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCZXZMYyRl4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycrh8g3hPR4

    Andrew and others have addressed this repeatedly, but some folks still don’t get it.

    Put yourself in the position of the cop. You are called to the scene of a shooting, (note the cops are not called by you because you did’t call 911, because you are talking to the cops right?) and see a person standing over another person who is bleeding from a gunshot wound. The guy who shot is still armed and will only say “I want my lawyer”. How is it gonna look to a Jury when they hear that or when a Prosecutor looks at them and asks; “Does that sound like someone who is innocent and just defending themselves to you”?

    Instead of a cop saying; “I was called to the scene of a reported self defense shooting. I encountered the defendant who informed me that he was attacked and he was in fear of his life and had no choice but to use his firearm. He was cooperative though visibly shaken.”

    George Zimmerman won acquittal partly based on the fact that he did cooperate with the cops and he was informed and knew what to say. Remember that the first DA and police chief did not charge him because they knew it was a good shoot and there was no chance of conviction, it was only after those guys were fired because of political pressure that Zimmerman was charged.

      jakee308 in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 11, 2014 at 5:26 am

      It’s not an “attitude” it’s your right.

      You make these claims but have yet to provide and facts to support your claim.

      The videos you cite are done by a law enforcement officer.

      I’m not disparaging his character but I am going to be skeptical of his being concerned about my rights.

      I would much rather take the opinion of criminal attorneys who overwhelming tell their clients to not talk to the police with out them present.

      You can down ding my remarks all you want you can dis and dismiss me but I have yet to see any cogent argument for talking to the police after a traumatic confusing lethal engagement. Given that what you say can and will be used against you, it makes no sense to not have competent objective assistance before and during any interview with LE.

      Kudos to Andrew (and I’m surprised to hear that he agrees that someone should talk to police without an attorney present) but just because GZ cooperated and despite all the efforts of others to put him away he managed (at great expense) to avoid penalty doesn’t provide incentive for someone else to begin talking to police at the scene.

      Perhaps if you’re cool enough and unimpaired by shock, trauma or confusion, then it might be wise to give LE some details of the circumstances but I defy you to give accounts where not doing so has led to greater likelihood of penalty.

      I would also ask you to relate any pertinent position or experience that allows you to offer this opinion so that we can gauge the value of this advice.

      Unless you’ve actually experienced this yourself, I don’t believe you can expect others to accept it over the advice given by most criminal law attorneys.

      Me, I have had interactions with LE. Granted I have related some basic details but omitted personal details (state of mind, intention, perception) and kept silent. These were not use of force situations but I’m satisfied that keeping my mouth shut kept me out of jail. So I will continue to believe that that’s a better course than speaking and inadvertently slamming the door on my ability to claim otherwise later. And also, cops (especially at the immediate scene) often get details wrong, names wrong, facts wrong. Happens all the time. But you think that it’s okay to trust to luck that no errors (willful or accidental) will be made.

      You can call me “uneducated” and I will call you unexperienced (and with an unknown background or motive).

        Gremlin1974 in reply to jakee308. | September 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        “It’s not an “attitude” it’s your right.”

        Your right is to remain silent and not to incriminate yourself. It is completely separate from your attitude and even if you are completely polite the Jury wasn’t there and to the cops just refusing to talk is gonna be seen as an attitude.

        “You make these claims but have yet to provide and facts to support your claim.”

        I would have to know which claims you are talking about.

        “The videos you cite are done by a law enforcement officer.”

        No the first video is by a former law enforcement officer who is now one of the recognized experts in self defense. He is also someone who the attorney who wrote this article has expressed confidence in on numerous occasions in the past. As far as I know the second video is done by private civilian trainers who are trained and certified.

        “I’m not disparaging his character but I am going to be skeptical of his being concerned about my rights.”

        Then you are overly paranoid and uninformed.

        “I would much rather take the opinion of criminal attorneys who overwhelming tell their clients to not talk to the police with out them present.”

        You are correct and most of those criminal attorneys primarily deal with people who are guilty as sin and have never been anywhere near a self defense case. So the advice they give as a “general rule” is don’t talk to cops, however Self Defense cases are very rare, so why would they give you any advice that wasn’t general?

        “You can down ding my remarks all you want”

        Sorry not one of the 12 year old’s that does that I only up vote comments.

        “you can dis and dismiss me but I have yet to see any cogent argument for talking to the police after a traumatic confusing lethal engagement. Given that what you say can and will be used against you, it makes no sense to not have competent objective assistance before and during any interview with LE.”

        No I just disagree with you, it is what my training and experience tell me to do.

        “Perhaps if you’re cool enough and unimpaired by shock, trauma or confusion, then it might be wise to give LE some details of the circumstances but I defy you to give accounts where not doing so has led to greater likelihood of penalty.”

        Its not about being cool or unimpaired, its about being prepared and having actually thought about it in advance. Its no different than training to shoot, you will fall back on training. Also you know as well as I do that you can’t prove a negative, but I believe you will be better off being cooperative to a point than just refusing to talk.

        “I would also ask you to relate any pertinent position or experience that allows you to offer this opinion so that we can gauge the value of this advice.”

        I am basing most of this on having read Andrews book and having attended his seminar. Not to mention that I have years of experience in medical psychiatry, firearms training, self defense firearms training, force on force training, and just common sense.

        “Unless you’ve actually experienced this yourself, I don’t believe you can expect others to accept it over the advice given by most criminal law attorneys.”

        If you are asking if I have ever been questioned by LE, the answer is yes, and my interrogators were military and it was a use of force situation when I was force to defend myself and the soldier that was with me. The details of which, as you point out, are none of your business.

        “You can call me “uneducated” and I will call you unexperienced (and with an unknown background or motive).”

        I won’t call you “uneducated” you do sound uneducated. I would also note that even you point out that you may have to give limited details in your own posts, so even you don’t believe that the “stay silent” argument is really viable.

      Milhouse in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      The guy who shot is still armed and will only say “I want my lawyer”. How is it gonna look to a Jury when they hear that or when a Prosecutor looks at them and asks; “Does that sound like someone who is innocent and just defending themselves to you”?

      Would a prosecutor even be allowed to say that to the jury? Surely any judge would immediately slap that down, and instruct the jury that it may not draw any negative inference from this.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Milhouse. | September 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm

        Yes, he would, its called a closing statement. Also a persons cooperativeness or lack there of with authorities is something that can most certainly be addressed.

Wafer opened his door and shot the women banging on his door. That is why he is going to prison.

That’s a lot of prison time for a guy who’d toddled off to bed with no intentions of hurting anybody.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | September 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I am thinking that he may be able to get his sentence reduced on appeal, I just don’t have any hope of his conviction being overturned.

Humphrey's Executor | September 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’m sympathetic to this guy. But this reminds me of this apocryphal exchange:

Judge: I sentence you to 50 years in prison.

Defendant: But judge, I’m 60 years old. I can’t do 50 years in jail.

Judge: I don’t expect you to. Just do you best.

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