Friday, June 13, 2014
Xena posted a comment to my post about Theodore Wafer advising that his hearing has been continued to next Friday, June 20th.
She also said,
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.
This presents an interesting new wrinkle to putting a victim on trial for a homicide, so let’s break it down, take a look and estimate the probability that it will be successful.
Let’s begin by assuming 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.
The racist right wing hate machine skips over the word reasonable because its members devoutly believe that their opinions are reasonable.
They fail to understand that the word reasonable in a legal context means evidence-based, as opposed to opinion-based. Racial prejudice is by definition opinion-based, rather than evidence-based. Therefore, it is unreasonable and no verdict should ever be based on it.
Prospective jurors who are unaware of their racial prejudice, or who deny being prejudiced when they know damn well they are prejudiced, should never sit on a jury when a person of color is the defendant or a victim allegedly injured or killed by a white defendant.
Even if McBride had a gun and intended to kill Wafer, 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 unequivocally that he did not fear death or grievous bodily injury.
That act is an evidence-based expression of his state of mind when he opened the door and it defeats his claim of self-defense.
The castle doctrine does not help Wafer 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 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/or stoned (e.g., George Zimmerman), especially if that person is listening to loud music and is disrespectful (e.g., Michael Dunn), the law recognizes no such right or privilege.
Finally, do not forget that Wafer did not initially claim self-defense. He told the police that his gun went off by accident.
Look for the defense to do everything it can to keep him off the stand at trial, so he does not have to explain to the jury which story was a lie and why he lied instead of telling the truth.
Trial lawyers love it when they get to ask, “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”
For all of these reasons, I believe the evidence the defense wants to introduce is irrelevant and inadmissible. I also believe a jury will convict him of murder, provided the prosecution identifies and eliminates all potential stealth jurors who would willingly substitute their racially prejudiced opinions about black teenagers for actual evidence.
We have seen jurors do that in two Florida trials.
The question is whether the prosecution will permit that to happen in Detroit.
Wafer’s trial is scheduled to start in five weeks, probably not long after Judge Thokozile announces her decision in the Oscar Pistorius case.
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