BREAKING: Homeowner Who Claimed Self Defense, Convicted of Murder

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A 55 year old Detroit man, could face life in prison after a jury convicted him of murder in connection with a shooting that he claimed was self defense.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.57.29 PMTheodore Wafer of Detroit, was accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 19 year old Renisha McBride.

McBride knocked on Wafer’s door in the middle of the night, November of 2013, following a car accident. She had been drinking.

Wafer claims he feared for his life and shot McBride on his porch with a shotgun, killing her.

Today, Wafer was convicted of second degree murder.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than ten hours over two days after closing arguments were heard Wednesday.
The prosecution argued that Wafer fired his shotgun because he was angry and looking for a confrontation.

( for more details on trial testimony, scroll down below the video)

The defense contended that the homeowner feared for his life when he heard pounding on his doors in the middle of the night.
McBride’s family has maintained that the teen was looking for help after the crash. “It was senseless, all he had to do was call 911,”
Monica McBride said Thursday.
Wafer’s sentencing will take place later this month.

If you shoot in self defense, be prepared to lose everything, because all you may have by the time the dust clears and the verdict is in, is YOUR LIFE.

I always tell my students:
“As a gun owner, or concealed carry citizen, if you shoot someone, will have to prove that the situation you were in was truly life threatening. ”

Police and prosecutors always look for 3 elements to determine whether to charge you or declare it a justified use of lethal force.

Those 3 elements are, Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy.

Ability means that the other person has the power to kill or to cripple you.

Opportunity means that the circumstances are such that the other person would be able to use his ability against you.

Jeopardy means that the other person’s actions or words provide you with a reasonably perceived belief that he intends to kill or cripple you.

If any one of those three elements are missing, your chances of being cleared are slim.

Apparently, police and a jury decided this homeowner did not meet those 3 elements.

Hesitation in a self defense situation could cost you your life, however, a clear understanding of the law BEFORE you find yourself confronted with a potential threat, could mean the difference between exoneration and prison.
©2014 Jan Morgan

Here are more details from testimony:

Softly and methodically, Wafer told the Wayne County Circuit Court jury how he followed loud bangs from his front door to his side door and back to the front again before fetching his 12-gauge shotgun.
He said he opened the front door slightly and saw that the outer, screen door was damaged. He then opened the inner door further and “this person came out from the side of my house so fast. I raised the gun and shot,” he told jurors after taking the stand on the seventh day of testimony.
Wafer also said he thought there could have been more than one person outside of his 1,100-square-foot home near Detroit’s far west side. He said he pulled the trigger “to defend myself. It was them or me.”
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark shows a photo of the shotgun that was used to kill Renisha McBride during trial Wednesday.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark shows a photo of the shotgun that was used to kill Renisha McBride during trial Wednesday.
When police arrived, McBride lay in a pool of blood just off the porch.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, some questioned whether race may have been a factor. Wafer is white and McBride was black, and some likened the killing to that of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. But race faded as an issue and wasn’t mentioned as a factor by prosecutors or defense attorneys during court hearings that preceded the trial.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors played a recording of Wafer telling an officer that he didn’t know the gun was loaded. They contend that Wafer didn’t need to use deadly force against McBride
Retired state Trooper David Balash holds a photo of Renisha McBride during the seventh day of testimony for the Nov. 2, 2013, killing of McBride by Theodore Wafer on Monday.
An autopsy found McBride’s blood-alcohol level was about 0.22, which is nearly three times Michigan’s legal limit for driving. About 3 1/2 hours before Wafer killed her, McBride crashed her car into a parked vehicle on a Detroit street about a half-mile away.
Occasionally rubbing the right side of his head and speaking with his eyes closed, Wafer testified that he couldn’t afford to install a security system at his home, so he bought the shotgun about six years ago to help him defend it. Wafer also said the neighborhood had changed greatly since he bought the house in 1994.
Earlier Monday, a firearms expert testified for the defense that Wafer and McBride were both apparently standing close to his screen door when he shot her through it, killing her.
Wafer is charged with second-degree murder and could be sentenced to up to life in prison with the chance for parole, if he’s convicted.
Retired state Trooper David Balash said the hole in the door made by the shotgun blast shows it was near the door when he fired it. He said the buckshot wounds on McBride’s body show she was standing near the door when Wafer shot her last fall.
“My opinion is she was very close to the door … within a foot,” Balash told the jury.
It is not clear how or why she showed up on Wafer’s porch. They didn’t know each other.
Prosecutors played Wafer’s videotaped interview with police after the shooting before ending testimony Monday afternoon. He is expected back on the stand Tuesday morning.
Friend says Detroit gun victim might have been drunk
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark holds the gun used to kill Renisha McBride during the Theodore Wafer trial before Judge Dana Hathaway at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit on Thursday, July 24, 2014. The 55-year-old Wafer is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride at his Dearborn Heights, Mich. home. He claims it was an act of self-defense. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT
Detroit-area man didn’t know shotgun was loaded when he shot Renisha McBride
Detroit murder trial begins for man who shot Renisha McBride on his porch
Renisha McBride gunman to stand trial for second-degree murder
Renisha McBride was ‘discombobulated’ before Theodore Wafer shot her: witness
Monica McBride and Walter Ray Simmons, the parents of Renisha McBride address the media during a news conference in Southfield, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Their daughter was shot on Nov. 2 in the face on Theodore P. Wafer’s front porch in Dearborn Heights.
Renisha McBride’s parents refute accused murderer’s self-defense claim
The Dearborn Heights home of Theodore Wafer, 54. Police say Renisha McBride, 19, was shot Nov. 2 on the porch of the residence following a car crash.
Renisha McBride shooting: Prosecutors charge Theodore Wafer with second-degree murder, manslaughter
Renisha McBride, 19, was killed after she was shot in the face with a shotgun on Nov. 2.
Hear audio of cops on scene of Renisha McBride shooting
Renisha McBride killed by gun blast to face
Renisha McBride, 19, was shot and killed Saturday in Dearborn Heights, Mich. following a car crash. The unarmed teen’s family says the killing could be racially motivated.
Gunman claims he accidentally shot unarmed Renisha McBride: report

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  • Linda

    I love your page but this is one time I disagree with your version of the subject. This man was in his house, the young woman was outside a locked door, he opened it and shot her in the face with a shotgun. She had no weapon, she was in a car wreck and needed help. He had no reason to shoot her.

    • newhon63

      I agree, Linda. McBride was drunk. With a blood alcohol content of .22, I am surprised she did not stumble into traffic and ran over while walking the 1/2 mile from the crash site. With that much alcohol in your system, it woukd be obvious to an observer of her condition, even after a few moments of observation.

      I understand the tension Wafer was in living in Detroit, you never know what may happen. But McBride was only beating on the door. She could have been a victim of a crime trying to get help or even someone who has witnessed a crime who had a dead cellphone. She was not kicking in the door. Wafer shot through the door. She was not inside the house. That is the standard I use should I be confronted with an intruder. They are okay outside my house unless I see a weapon. But inside my house uninvited and by force, then they have two choices. Do as I instruct and get on the floor face down, arms out, palms up, cross your ankles, then do NOT MOVE. I will then call 911. Or I will blow off your leg if you take another step. Wafer was not in imminent danger. The verdict is good in my opinion with the facts as we know them.

      The only thing I wonder is how many houses did McBride go to looking for help and was refused or ignored altogether before arriving at Wafer’s house. A half mile is a long way to go looking for help. There had to have been houses along the way.

      • Rattlerjake

        Several circumstances and basic information are being ignored. This happened in Detroit, a city that is PLAGUED with violent crime and black on white crime. Most of the whites that still live there are financially unable to move and live in fear of criminals daily. This supposed victim, was drunk, wrecked her car, left the scene, then a half-mile away decides to bang on a door for help!? Doesn’t wash. Others question whether she had banged on other doors, yet there were NO witnesses that she did so. It’s laughable how so many commenters claim that she was NO threat, which is nothing more than wishful thinking. Black teens, both male and female, are some of the worst criminals in this country. Laws and human life mean absolutely nothing to these criminals. Instead of this trial establishing a precedent that if you trespass on private property or you are a perceived threat you could be shot, it will now establish to these criminals and their worthless families that they have more rights than the occupant of the property, who will be scared to defend themselves for fear of prosecution.

        Pound on my door at 1AM and see where that gets you. There will be a new tree planted in my yard!

        • Dave

          Cops should be held to the same three “elements” that the rest of us are held to.

          • Mercury

            Our courts have granted special rights to the police, which allow them to gun down citizens with immunity. The Constitution grants no such power, in fact it does not mention “police” at all, and charges citizen militias with keeping the peace.

        • Mercury

          It did not happen in Detroit, it happened in Dearborn heights, which has a low crime rate.

          • Rattlerjake

            You can play all the semantics you want, but Dearborn Heights is nothing but an extension of Detroit, basically “West Detroit”.

          • Mercury

            Dearborn Heights has a crime rate of 241,a safe cities such as Bangor Maine has a rate of 302, Detroit has a rate of 1009. Dearborn Heights is safer than Bangor.

    • Incredulous_one

      But Murder Two? Can’t go along with that.

  • JamesT

    I admit that I don’t have all the facts, but from the little bit of information provided in this story, I believe the jury got the verdict right. Being Detroit, I can understand how the homeowner was on edge when he heard someone banging on his door in the middle of the night, but unless she actually breached the door I don’t see that he had justification to shoot.

    • Mercury

      Read the article, it did not happen in Detroit.

      • Rattlerjake

        Looks like you need to do the reading, the first two paragraphs say Detroit twice! “A 55 year old Detroit man, could face life in prison after a jury convicted him of murder in connection with a shooting that he claimed was self defense. Theodore Wafer of Detroit, was accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 19 year old Renisha McBride.”
        You can play all the semantics you want, but Dearborn Heights is nothing but an extension of Detroit, basically “West Detroit”.

        • Mercury

          It happened in Dearborn Heights, which has a crime rate lower than Bangor Maine.

          • mtncrusr

            Mercury, take a rest. It don’t matter where it happened, it should not have.

  • jrzboy

    Agree with the others, if someone wants to really rob or harm you, they dont bang on the door and if any resonable person heard that, they would call 911 BEFORE going to the door if they were in fear. If he didnt have a gun, thats exactly what he would have done. Im all for gun rights, but he did what he did because he was looking for it and had a gun on a power trip.

    • newhon63

      The thing I find hard to believe most is an owner of a firearm not being aware that his gun was loaded or not. I own guns as is my right, I know where they all are and that they are loaded. It would be stupid to have to load your weapon at the time you needed it in my opinion.

      About the crime being racially motivated at first. It is a sad thing that it is the first thing looked at these days. Is is no longer looked at as circumstances surrounding a human being killing another first. My heart goes out to the McBride family but the first thing they even looked at was race as soon as they found out Wafer was white. I submit that it should not matter whether one race killed another race or both were the same race. Murder is murder and regardless of race should carry the same sentence. The maximum sentence as set forth by our laws. If you are guilty of 1st degree murder then you planned to do it. If the sentence carries a life sentence you should serve life. No chance of parole, no time off for good behavior. Could not act like a person outside, you should not be rewarded for learning a lesson that common sense would have taught you if you were paying attention or gave a crap to in the first place. Same with the other forms, 2nd degree, 3rd degree, manslaughter and the like. I know it is a hard line but because we are not hard line is why people are more willing to take the chance. They know that life may not really mean life.

  • Mike Dinger

    You guys got this wrong he was not defending himself. He committed a murder and should rot in jail.

  • Ken

    None of us can imagine what this guy was thinking nor how we would react in the same given situation. It’s easy to play armchair judge and jury. Did you know she had a 0.218 BAC and was high on marijuana? Did you know they threw out selfies of her with piles of pot and packaging supplies,with wads of cash, with hand guns and making gang gestures things that would show the jury the character of this woman? Perhaps she was a bit more than just upset perhaps she was a freaking lunatic that freaked the hell out of him as she was acting out and mad at the world. We don’t know, we werent there. Would this man have found himself in this situation had she not been totally blitzed out of her mind driving and crashing into things?

    I’m not suggesting he wasn’t irresponsible because it appears he may have, might have, could have used better judgment. This could just as easily been her facing a judge because she ran over someone while drunk out of her mind and high. I certainly don’t think he deserves life in prison. And don’t give me this tiny little girl stuff, I’ve seen how some of these women in the hood fight and carry on, they’d scare the hell out of me at any hour of the day, but 4:30 in the morning in Detroit, damn straight I’d be on edge with someone wailing on my door screaming like a banshee. He could have done some things differently but is was her stupid actions that created this volatile situation. Give him 5 years..

    • Kent2012

      well one of the folks above suggested you call 911 and wait…..and wait….and wait…remember Detroit is in the middle of a “we runned outa cash man” scenario..you just might get an answer when you call…more likely a message “please hold our staff is taking more important calls”….meanwhile you are being assaulted….

      • newhon63

        Point taken. For me, in that case, I put in the call to 911, I put the phone on speaker for the 911 operator and wait to see if the intruder forces their way into my home. Then, I would instruct as I described in a previous post for the person to get down on the floor, face down, arms out, palms up and cross their ankles, and DO NOT MOVE. There we would wait for 911 to finally take my call. With a shotgun, if the person moved, I would most likely bust them in the head or break a rib with the butt of it in order to slow them down. But for the record as I stated previously, unless I saw a weapon in the assailant’s hand, I would not shoot through the door.

      • Mercury

        If it had happened in Detroit, your post may have a point, but since it happened in Dearborn Heights, it does not.

        • Kent2012

          I forgot DH is all that way across Michigan, up near Petosky…

    • newhon63

      I did not see a mention of pot use. I will read it again. But The BAC was enough to prove she was not in a condition to be a real threat.

      That being said, sure all the circumstances you cited could have happened but they did not. The things you point out that could have happened are heavy on McBride. We can play ” What if” all day long but in the court of law it is “What did happen” that matters. She was drunk, she was beating on the front door, went to the side door, beat on it, came back to the front door. Inside Wafer claims he followed the noise from the front to the side and back, said he did not know his shotgun was loaded, opened the inside door, fired through the screen door at her head, probably killing her instantly. Are there facts we don’t know? Sure, none of us here were at the scene or in the court room during the trial. The judge heard the case, the jury of his peers heard the evidence, prosecution and defense argued the case, Wafer had his day in court and a verdict was handed down. Guilty as charged. The victim received justice, the accuser is sentenced, the family has closure. Hopefully there will be no more issues connected with this girl’s death like the family claiming misconduct on someone’s part or Wafer’s family claiming anything similar.

  • vf6cruiser

    This just proves the maxim for all of us 2A supporters, if you grab a gun with the intent to use it, your life WILL change forever………and with rare exceptions………usually not in a good way………….

    • Kent2012

      especially important if you live in an area inhabited predominately by leftists and in a state where most of the judges were appointed by democraps…

  • machodog

    Dearborn, Michigan? If any one person on the jury was a muslim, it should be declared a mistrial.

    • Fred


  • Rodney Campbell

    Only a fool would go to the door at 2 or 3 in the morning in Detroit without a gun of some kind. If she was that drunk & stoned I doubt she was knocking, more likely beating & pounding & probably screaming, likely making him think home invasion. Better question is why was a 19 year old out drunk at 2 or 3 in the morning. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I would have been prepared for the worst and at 2 or 3 in the morning a drunk driver on your doorstep may well be the person that decides to kill you.

    • Mercury

      It did not happen in Detroit, it happened in Dearborn Heights which has a crime rate lower than Bangor Maine.

  • MortarMan107

    So, this guy does EXACTLY what the Vice President of the United States SAID TO DO – get a shotgun and shoot through the door. Remember that? But while Shotgun Biden gets a free pass for his moronic mouth, this guy goes to prison forever.

    Actions – and words – have consequences.

    I long for the days when our national leaders made sensible remarks.

  • What a mess we all now live in ? We are all faced with the same stuff, but Detroit ? wow. The guy did not go looking for this , it came to his door and the violence and crime there is off the charts . In all honesty I think our broken government is the real villain here if any exists? People are being traumatized by all manner of violence and malfeasance and when they react this is the kind of outcome that can happen. I don’t think he should be charged with a serious a crime , a lesser charge is in order IMO. Mainly because the real wrong doer is our own system that is seriously broken ! What a nightmare for all involved . Unfortunately we will see many more as our system continues to collapse into chaos. It is already in motion.

  • Slick

    Most of y’all would likely think I’m a liberal….but I’m a proud owner of firearms and would absolutely employ them in defense of my life or any of my loved ones’ lives. I’m not one of those that feels the need to parade around town with my tricked out AR-15 just because I can, because I think that’s just stupid. My guns and ammo are discretely stored, locked, but available for pretty quick access. Fortunately I live in an area where I don’t generally worry about street violence so I don’t keep a loaded semi-auto or blunderbuss within my reach at all times.
    Not so in Detroit….and many other decaying areas. However…from all I have heard about this case I think the jury got it right. This guy, scared though he may have been, reacted too rashly and someone just looking for help is dead.
    Years ago the mantra used to be “If you shoot someone on your property drag them into the house.” That didn’t really work back then and it still isn’t working. I’m not saying this guy tried that – but his defense was along those lines.
    The great power of a gun in your hands demands great responsibility. This guy failed in that regard. He just blasted through the screen door.
    When those that live in any society feel that it’s okay to just blow people away then really there is no more society and just a bunch of private and semi-private wars and gun battles. I have no sympathy for this guy just as I have no sympathy for trigger happy cops. Killing rarely fixes anything. Killing usually immutably changes many lives and ends one or more. We can do better.
    But on another note, I have no problem with the deployment of AC-130 Spooky gunships, A-10 Warthogs, Apaches, and F-16’s to wipe the smile off the faces of those thugs in northern Iraq.

  • ToniStimmel

    I have a hard time believing that you would open the door, without having some idea of who was on the outside, if you were so concerned that you brought a shotgun with you to the door.

    In Orlando FL that picture of the victim would be one from when she was twelve years old but then this victim didn’t appear to be a walking nightmare. Almost no one sees what dear little Trayvon looked like when he grew up for 5 years.

  • fbc28277

    This was murder. You can’t go outside of your locked house and shoot somebody who is on your porch. If she was inside his house than he would be justified in using deadly force. She wasn’t even trying to break in, burglars don’t knock on the door.

    • Bonney Bacon

      I’m sorry but burglars do knock on the door–in order to find out if you are home. Also to find out who is home. I’m just glad we have a noisy dog.

      • fbc28277

        Statistics show that most burglaries occur during daylight hours when people are at work. Knocking on the door during the day is way different than doing it in the middle of the night. My house has been broken in twice, both times during the day while I was at work.

    • Carmel Teuma remesquaddie

      You’re wrong. In LA, it is common practice for black
      burglars to knock on your door to see if anyone is in.


      • Mercury

        Why does it matter what color the burglar’s skin is? Criminals are criminals, and innocents are innocents. If you think the color of their skin matters you should be on Huffingtonpost or some other Democrat site.

        • Carmel Teuma remesquaddie

          It MATTERS, because it happens to be the truth, and, I could care less about being PC.
          That’s for wimps.

          • Mercury

            Conservatives believe that the rights belong to the individual not the group. If you condemn a group, you are a liberal racist and should be on Huffingtonpost.

          • Carmel Teuma remesquaddie

            Mercury, is POISON….

          • Mercury

            Mercury is the messenger, sometimes carrying the message you do not want to hear, but it is still the truth.

  • willythegeek

    I think both of them were at fault. She should have stayed at her car blowing the horn. He should have not opened the door. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • tyrannyofevilmen

    The author of this article is 100% correct. All three elements of ability, opportunity, and jeopardy must be present. If you are ever involved in a self-defense shooting, you MUST be able to articulate why you feared for your life at the moment when you pulled the trigger. If you cannot do that and convince a jury that both your actions and your fear were reasonable, you’re probably going to prison for a very long time.

  • Mrs. Patriot

    Lesson: Surveillance cameras all around your house. They’re affordable.

  • Samuel Clemens

    She was drunk, driving at 1:00: AM. It was just a matter of time before she killed herself & maybe someone else. Let this play put in the courts. Justice will be served. Besides people, it’s Detroit.