Saturday, June 28, 2013
Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway yesterday denied the defense motion seeking the court’s permission to inform the jury about the content of the text messages on Renisha McBride’s cell phone. She denied the motion because their content does not show that she was an aggressive person.
I agree with her decision.
Judge Hathaway also denied the defense motion to introduce a chart into evidence that contains information about police responses to the Dearborn Heights neighborhood during 2013. The defense wanted to inform the jury about those responses to support its argument that Wafer feared death or serious bodily injury because the neighborhood had become more violent.
Unfortunately for the defense, the reasonable response to increased concern about personal safety would have been to remain behind the locked front door and call 911.
Judge Hathaway is going to permit the defense expert, former medical examiner Dr. Werner Spitz, to present expert opinion evidence regarding the general effect of fear on a decision to fire a weapon.
I respectfully disagree with this decision because the general effect of fear on a decision to shoot a gun is beyond the scope of a forensic pathologist’s expertise. Their area of expertise is determining cause of death, not mental processes.
A psychiatrist would be more qualified to address that issue.
Judge Hathaway is not going to permit the defense expert to express an opinion regarding whether Wafer acted reasonably.
Judge Hathaway has not ruled on the defense motion to introduce the photos stored in McBride’s phone. One photo purportedly shows a handgun of some sort. I said before the hearing, the photos should be excluded because they do not indicate that McBride was an aggressive person with a violent disposition.
As the NRA reminds us multiple times every week, possession of a gun does not mean that the person who possesses the gun has a violent disposition.
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