The opening arguments for the Theodore Wafer, the man who shot and killed Renisha McBride began July 23rd. McBride is the 19-year-old woman who was in a car accident in Dearborn Heights, a mostly white town bordering Detroit, in the early hours of November 2nd. A few hours after she crashed her car into a parked vehicle a mile away, she approached 55-year-old Theodore Wafer’s home, asking for help and he shot and killed her. Wafer has been charged with second degree murder, manslaughter and committing a felony with a firearm for the fatal shooting of McBride.
This trial is already predicted to be the most racially divisive cases of 2014, reminiscent of the George Zimmerman’s trial where Trayvon Martin also lost his life through a fatal gunshot from a man who claimed he feared his life. Wafer is even facing the exact same charges that were against Zimmerman. He claims he was faced with a woman who was banging on his door in rage. Renisha’s “rage” could have easily been urgency because she’d been in an accident, the same way Trayvon Martin’s “looking suspicious” was just him protecting himself from the rain on his way home from the store.
The defense is going to try and dirty McBride’s reputation, the same way did with Trayvon Martin. It’s expected that the defense will say that McBride was a troubled teen with prior arrests and, at the time of her death, a blood alcohol content at 11 times the legal limit for minors. And prosecutors argue that if Wafer felt threatened, he should have kept the door locked and called 911 rather than open it and shoot McBride at point blank.
“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?”
It’s going to be interesting to watch it play out because Wafer’s jury consists of four Black people, whereas Zimmerman’s had one woman who wasn’t White–“Maddy.” Each prospective juror for the Wafer trial was quizzed during the selection process not just on their prior knowledge of the widely publicized case but also about their views on the police, gun violence and race.
University of Michigan law professor Eve Primus says, “When you’re dealing with jury pools that contain large numbers of minorities and people who live in impoverished communities, their experience with and perception of the world is drastically different,” she said. “Black jurors who have experienced prejudice might say [Wafer] just shot her because she’s Black. But, at the same time, if jurors live in communities where someone who approaches them and is yelling at them means violence, they might find it reasonable for him to think she presented a threat of violence.” The case’s result hinges on what the jury views as reasonable self-defense, but civil rights advocates insist that Wafer may have believed he was allowed to shoot McBride based on laws like Stand Your Ground.
We’re praying for justice to be served and will be keeping our eyes on this one, beauties.