Sunday, August 3, 2014
I write today regarding David Balash’s testimony in the Theodore Wafer trial. He is the defense firearms expert.
He testified that the screen was out of its frame when Wafer fired the fatal shot.
Assuming for the sake of argument that he is right, the position of the screen when Wafer fired the shotgun does not matter.
Here is a summary of his testimony by Matthew Zarrell of HLNTV.
The defense firearms expert was also a retired Michigan State Police detective and has testified in hundreds of cases as an expert witness. After examining the evidence, Balash explained that in his opinion Renisha was shot at close range, less than 2 feet away. The battle over the screen door continued as Balash demonstrated for jurors how he believes the gun would had to have been held by Wafer if the screen was intact with the door at the time of the shooting, which would put part of the gun above Wafer’s head. Based on that analysis, Balash explained that the screen must have been out of the frame before the shot was fired, suggesting the force of Renisha’s pounding on the door is the cause.
Although I have previously written that the screen was in the frame when Wafer fired his shotgun, I am no longer certain that is true.
However, even if we assume it was not in the frame, that does not necessarily mean McBride dislodged it in an attempt to break into Wafer’s house.
Here is Zarrell summarizing the testimony of Detective Sergeant Stephen Gurka.
Gurka was the detective in charge of the case and was questioned about investigating the scene and gathering information. Gurka said he found no evidence of attempts to force entry into the home or damage to the front door or its locks when he arrived at the crime scene just over an hour after the shooting. Gurka did not observe any prying, kick marks, or damage to the locks on the front or side doors, which the defense says Renisha was banging on so forcefully that night that Wafer was in fear of his life.
The absence of any other evidence of an attempt to break into Wafer’s home when considered together with McBride’s loud and persistent effort to awaken the occupant of the home constitutes strong circumstantial evidence that she was not attempting to break into his home.
We also have his conduct to consider. He unlocked and opened the front door exposing himself to a possible attack by McBride. He initially told the police that he did not realize he had a chambered round in his shotgun and he fired it accidentally. This version of events is inconsistent with his subsequent claim that he was in fear for his life when he opened the door.
Therefore, his claim of self-defense appears to be based on his realization that his claim of death by accident was unlikely to prevail and that is true regardless of the position of the screen when he fired the fatal shot into Renisha McBride’s face.
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