Shooter Of Woman Seeking Help Charged With Murder

A homeowner in Michigan, who shot a woman seeking help, is charged with murder, despite claims of self-defense.

Two weeks after a Michigan woman was shot in the face with a shotgun for seeking help, authorities have moved to charge the shooter, a homeowner, with murder.  After several days of investigating the shooting of Renisha McBride and its relation to the law, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office announced that they will charge Theodore Wafer with murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm while committing or attempting to commit a felony. The shooting, which occurred in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn Heights, spawned national attention, especially since, given the shooter was white and the victim black, it was compared to the recent Trayvon Martin case.  There is still a chance that Wafer could get away with the shooting scot-free, though.

At the heart of the shooting is Theodore Wafer's attempt to use self-defense laws such as "shoot first" to justify shooting Renisha McBride.   At first, Wafer claimed to police that he accidentally pulled the trigger of his shotgun.  However, Wafer subsequently told, through his attorney, that he had a right to shoot McBride under the "shoot first" law, and may even invoke the "Castle Doctrine," in which one does not need to retreat in order to shoot in self-defense.  His lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, additionally claims Wafer was "in fear of his life" from McBride, who was 19 and unarmed.

The issue with the "Castle Doctrine" and other self-defense laws is that it requires that there be an actual breaking and entering, or attempt at one occuring.  In the case of McBride, the only possible evidence against her is that her knocking on the door was loud, akin to banging on a door.  Such evidence makes breaking and entering seem implausible in this situation.  This may be what led prosecutors in Wayne County to charge Wafer with murder and manslaughter, though he may still invoke those laws during trial.

The trial may also use McBride's drunken state as evidence for Wafer.  McBride had a blood alcohol level of .218, nearly three times the legal limit of .08 for driving in Michigan, and also had marijuana in her system.  The reason McBride was seeking help was because she had just gotten into a car accident.  McBride already suffered injuries from the accident before being shot.  No trial date for Wafer has been set.

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