1. From the barest facts of the case, we know that just before he was shot Trayvon Martin was beating George Zimmerman’s head against a concrete sidewalk.
In contrast, Renisha McBride was knocking on a door. The 19-year-old was apparently seeking help for a car crash in the middle of the night after her cell phone died. “Instead of receiving help, she was shot in the face by a 54-year-old man who has not yet been publicly identified.”
2. The gunshot that killed Trayvon Martin was fired from point blank range, which matches with the story of one man straddling another and beating his head against the sidewalk.
Renisha McBride was not killed from point-blank range, and the distance from which the shot was fired will make it extremely hard for the homeowner to claim any sort of self-defense.
3. Trayvon Martin’s assailant successfully claimed self defense, and did not use Florida’s ‘stand your ground‘ law in that defense against murder charges.
The homeowner who killed Renisha McBride initially claimed that he fired his shotgun accidentally, but from statements by his attorney it looks like he will make use of ‘stand your ground‘ and/or ‘castle doctrine‘ defenses against any murder charge:
Despite the homeowner’s initial claim that it was an accidental shooting, [Cheryl] Carpenter’s comment indicates her client might raise a Stand Your Ground-type defense if he faces charges. While Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law authorizes deadly force anywhere one has a right to be, another law known as the “Castle Doctrine” was expanded to allow deadly force in self-defense not just inside one’s “dwelling,” but also in areas around the home such as a porch or a yard. When a person uses deadly force in the area considered the “dwelling” to prevent what is perceived as a break-in, Michigan law presumes that the deadly force was “reasonable.”
The homeowner’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, told The Detroit News that the man was awakened in the early hours by what sounded like ‘‘a person or persons’’ trying to get into his home. Carpenter said the shooting was justified but did not comment on reports that it was accidental.
In sum, the Renisha McBride tragedy looks like it may become the nightmare scenario that the Trayvon Martin case was not. I.e., a case where a ‘racist/paranoid guy gets away with murder because of that crazy stand-your-ground law.’ Michigan has that stupid law, and it has a worse one incorporating ‘castle doctrine’. So, unfortunately, I wouldn’t predict justice for Renisha, but of course it is very early and all the facts and evidence are not yet in.