After 10-days of trial and hours of deliberation (that began on Wednesday), a jury found Theodore Wafer, 55, guilty of second degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearms charges in the shooting of Renisha McBride, 19.
A reporter (@Idabeewells) inside the courtroom tweeted, “People have moved for immediate remand. Monica McBride, mother of
#RenishaMcBride, in tears.” Wafer will be remanded immediately and sentencing has been set for August 21.
Wafer admitted to shooting and killing Renisha last November after she had been banging on his door in the wee hours of the morning. Renisha had been in a car accident and sought help. Wafer’s attorney Cheryl Carpenter argued that Renisha was banging so hard, the windows shook thus, scaring her client. Wafer’s main defense was that he was in fear for his safety and sought his firearm for protection. It later came out in the trial that Wafer had told police he didn’t know his shotgun was loaded.
“[It was] total reflex reaction, defending myself,” he explained when asked why he shot Renisha. “I wasn’t going to cower in my house, I didn’t want to be a victim.” “I wasn’t going to cower in my house,” he added. Wafer may have felt his actions were justified under the “stand your ground” law and castle doctrine.
Prosecutors countered Carpenter’s version of events, arguing that Wafer could have exercised other options before opening fire, including calling the police.
The reaction to the case has been polarizing. The Associated Press, a respected source for news, posted this offensive and blatantly insensitive headline, “Suburban Detroit homeowner convicted of second-degree murder for killing woman who showed up drunk on porch,” on Twitter sparking outrage. The hashtag #APHeadlines has been formed.
The Theodore Wafer trial was predicted to be the most racially divisive case of 2014. “This case becomes an indicator in terms of where we are in terms of race in the criminal justice system,” said Mark Fancher, staff attorney for the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Michigan. “Trayvon elevated our understanding of why and how there’s a double standard in terms of how these matters are resolved. The Renisha McBride case puts the focus back on that question: How well will a criminal justice system deal with violence perpetrated by a white male on a young Black person?”
The Trayvon Martin trial left a bitter taste in the mouths of an already jaded Black community, but a sense of relief and accomplishment comes with the Theodore Wafer verdict. Finally, justice has been served!
For photos from inside the court room, click here.