Theodore Wafer has an important pretrial hearing today UPDATED BELOW

Friday, June 13, 2014

Good morning:

Theodore Wafer is back in the news today. He will be in court for an important pretrial hearing regarding the admissibility of evidence that his unarmed 19-year-old victim, Renisha McBride, was a pot smoker with a violent disposition.

He is accused of shooting her in the face through a screen door with a shotgun after opening the locked inner door in response to her knocking and asking for assistance after wrecking her car.

He also wants to introduce evidence that crime was increasing in his neighborhood.

He is claiming self-defense.

The rule is that evidence of prior acts of misconduct by the victim in a homicide case are not admissible unless the defendant knew about them and they are probative (i.e., more likely so than not so) of the victim’s intent. Since he did not know her, the evidence is not admissible.

Defense counsel, who are a father and daughter team, are attempting to get around the rule by arguing that the evidence, much of which consists of photos and text messages recovered from her cell phone, is admissible to show that she had a violent disposition. They base their argument on a different rule that allows a person claiming self-defense to introduce such evidence, whether or not they know about it.

The problem they face and the reason they are likely to lose this argument is that pot smoking and talking smack with friends do not make it more likely than not that McBride had a violent disposition. She was alone, unarmed, injured from the crash and asking for help.

Defense counsel are making the same argument that Mark O’Mara and Don West made in the Zimmerman case; namely, that smoking pot makes people violent. There is no credible scientific evidence to support that argument, so the trial judge should deny the defense motion.

Evidence regarding increasing crime rates in the neighborhood may be admissible to show Wafer’s state of mind, assuming he was concerned about them, but that evidence does not reasonably justify opening a locked inner door and firing a shotgun through a screen door at an unarmed teenage girl knocking on the door and asking for help.

Reasonable people do not execute unarmed teenage girls knocking on their front door in the middle of the night asking for help. If they are concerned about their own safety, they remain behind their locked doors and call 911.

Wafer did not call 911 until after he shot and killed McBride and he did not tell the police that he shot McBride in self-defense. He told them that he accidentally pulled the trigger. He changed his story and that is why he is likely to be convicted of murder.

The outcome of this case, as was true of the Zimmerman and Dunn trials in Florida, will likely depend on how successful the prosecutor is at identifying racists during jury selection and excluding them from the jury. It only takes one racist juror to hang the jury by ignoring the evidence and the jury instructions.

Will white fear and hatred of people with dark skin dictate the outcome of this case?

Racists should be excused for cause in all trials in which the defendant is a person of color because racist beliefs are irrational. They are by definition not evidence-based and, therefore, cannot be considered when deliberating on a verdict.

Two Florida juries flunked the test. Let’s see what happens in Detroit.

UPDATE: According to the Detroit Free Press, the hearing today was cancelled. I imagine that it will be rescheduled, but the date and time has not yet been announced.

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9 Responses to Theodore Wafer has an important pretrial hearing today UPDATED BELOW

  1. aussie says:

    A friend and I were preparing meat for a barbecue when she had to go back to the shops for something. Later i heard a noise at the door I thought was her with her hands full, so I went there to let her in. It was two strange (very strange) guys. “Oh, sorry, never mind” they said and RAN. Only then did I notice, I was still holding a 10 inch knife covered in blood.

    So yes. “showing” works.

  2. fauxmccoy says:

    thanks, fred, for the update. i hope to see this shithead behind bars and the sooner the better.

  3. MKX says:

    One data point for everybody here. I drive that stretch of Outer Drive on my way to see my old home in Detroit. The last time I did that during the summer, I noted there were a large number of African American families in that block tending their lawns or just watching their kids playing. I say this because the defense is probably going to try the black person = violent Detroiter BS for their stealth jurors.

    And there are area proximate Rouge Park, in Detroit, that have a lot of violent crime.

    However, an objective person would have to take into account that McBride was a neighbor or looking for a neighbor.

    The same lack of objectivity was not applied to Trayvon Martin. That community was about 20% African American. So why, unless you are a racist shit bag, would you assume he had no right to be there?

    And I agree with the professor.

    My father did have a shot gun to protect himself in Detroit. One night, he witnessed a car jacking in progress. The robbers had followed a neighbor, through a automatic gate and had a gun to his head. Apparently, another car they had stolen had died on the street outside and this unlucky neighbor just happened to arrive at the same time. So my father watched all this from his door and decided to stay quiet and watch because he felt any kind of startling might cause the robbers to shoot the driver. So he did not come out till they had taken the car and drove away. The person robbed was an off-duty police officer. He told my father that he did the right thing.

    The stolen car ran out of gas and the robbers were caught the next day.

    A sane gun owner will show arms. By show, I mean the barrel is pointed either up or down, not at a persons head with a finger on the trigger.

    Detroit is, indeed, a hard city and I was shown arms a few time just because I knocked on a door.

    What Wafer did is criminal in both a legal and common sense.

  4. Malisha says:

    Of course he can’t prove that he knew she had a violent disposition, but the weakness of the prosecution’s case is that in American courts, it is permissible to ASSUME that any African American has a violent disposition, so racism equals scienter.

  5. Xena says:

    The hearing is rescheduled for June 20th.

    Did you read the part where the defense wants to argue that Renisha mistook Wafer’s house for a drug dealer’s house? The defense’s argument is that someone who lived close to Renisha was arrested for marijuana after Renisha was killed.

    • Hi Xena.

      Good to see your fonts again, Welcome back.

      Thanks for the update about the new hearing date.

      Now on to your question.

      Let’s assume for the sake of argument that,

      (1) someone who lived near Wafer’s house sold marijuana,

      (2) McBride had previously purchased marijuana from that person at that address, and

      (3) she mistakenly believed she was knocking on that person’s front door when she knocked on Wafer’s front door.

      I don’t believe that set of assumed facts, which Wafer did not know at the time of the shooting, helps his claim of self-defense because, regardless of her intent, he had to be in fear of suffering imminent death or grievous bodily harm and his belief had to be reasonable. That is, a reasonable person in the same situation also would have believed that he was in imminent danger of suffering death or grievous bodily injury.

      Even if she had a gun and intended to kill him, and there is no evidence that she did, nothing about the situation he was in would likely have caused a reasonable person to believe he was in imminent danger behind the two locked doors. Seems to me that opening the door demonstrates that he did not fear death or grievous bodily injury.

      The castle doctrine does not apply because she did not attempt to break in or enter his house. She was unarmed and outside his house knocking on the door. He was inside his house in a safe location on the other side of two locked doors while armed with a loaded shotgun and he had a cell phone with which to call 911.

      He cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by opening the door.

      We might have a different situation if he were living next to a drug house with all sorts of people coming and going at all hours of the day and night and occasionally mistaking his house for the drug house, but even then he would have to have an objectively reasonable basis to believe his life was in danger, as opposed to being pissed off that someone was knocking on his door disturbing his sleep in the middle of the night.

      As a matter of law, therefore, I believe the answer is easy. The evidence that the defense seeks to introduce is irrelevant and inadmissible.

      Just as O’Mara and West did in the Zimmerman trial, the defense is attacking the victim’s character in an effort to say she deserved to die.

      However, as much as right-wing racists want to believe that they have a right to kill any person who is young, black, drunk and stoned, especially if that person is listening to loud music and is disrespectful, the law recognizes no such privilege.

      You asked a good question that produced a long answer, so I’m going to post it as a separate post.

  6. bettykath says:

    Thanks for the update.

    • The hearing was cancelled. Presumably, the court will reschedule it because I doubt defense counsel will withdraw their motion thereby abandoning the issue.

      Defense counsel have a duty to raise issues and preserve them for an appeal, if the client is convicted. These motions are raised in most self-defense cases and the law is well known.

      I doubt the hearing was cancelled because today is Friday the 13th.

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