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Theodore Wafer ordered to stand trial for killing Renisha McBride

9:34 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Cross Posted From Frederick Leatherman Law Blog*

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Good morning:

MSNBC is reporting today that a Michigan judge ordered Theodore Wafer, 54, to stand trial for murder in the second degree and manslaughter for shooting Renisha McBride, 19, to death in the face with a shotgun on November 2nd.

He is white and she was black.

Judge David Turfe said Thursday that based on the evidence presented, Wafer made a poor decision in shooting McBride, and he failed to pursue other “reasonable opportunities to defend himself,” including calling the police for help.

“He chose to shoot rather than not answer the door,” the judge said.

McBride had been drinking heavily earlier in the evening and crashed her vehicle into a parked car approximately a half-mile from Wafer’s house three hours before she knocked on Wafer’s door.

The New York Daily News is reporting:

A witness said McBride was bleeding and holding her head, but that she walked away from the scene before an ambulance arrived. It’s still unclear, at least publicly, what she did between the time of the car wreck and her arrival on Wafer’s porch.

An autopsy found McBride had a blood-alcohol level of about 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for driving. She also had been smoking marijuana.
Her best friend, Amber Jenkins, 18, said they were drinking vodka and playing cards seven to eight hours before the shooting was reported to 911.

Wafer opened the inner door and shot her through the screen door in the face from a distance of about two feet.

Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha testified that her injuries were so severe that he “couldn’t even reconstruct the brain.”

The result of this preliminary hearing is not surprising because she was unarmed and Wafer had admitted to police that he shot her after he opened the door in response to her knocking on it.

The purpose of the hearing was for the judge to determine whether probable cause existed to believe Wafer committed the crimes charged. There was zero chance that the judge would have dismissed the charges on that set of facts.

Defense counsel did what defense counsel all over the country do at a preliminary hearing. They used it to obtain discovery about the prosecution’s case and cross examine their witnesses under oath locking them into their stories.

Defendant did not testify and defense counsel did not put on any witnesses at the preliminary hearing. This is standard operating procedure, so no surprises there. Nothing good can come from locking your client into his story and opening him up to cross examination by a great white shark in a dress before you know if the prosecution has the ace of trumps.

That would be malpractice.

Wafer and his defense team appear to have a choice-of-defense dilemma. He initially told police that he accidentally fired his shotgun. However, his lawyers argued that the judge should dismiss the charges because the evidence introduced at the hearing was consistent with self-defense.

I did not get that impression and neither did the judge. Unless a person is predisposed to believe that an unarmed black female teenager knocking on their door at 4:30 am is a threat and should be shot in the face, and I am talking about white racists, I do not believe the evidence supports a claim of self-defense.

The prosecutor didn’t mess around; She went for the jugular.

Wayne County assistant prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark said it’s “ridiculous” to believe that Wafer was deeply afraid but still decided to open the door and fire instead of first calling the police.

“He shoved that shotgun in her face and pulled the trigger,” Hagaman-Clark said.

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The Near Legal Future for Jared Loughner

12:36 pm in Government by Masoninblue

Because Representative Giffords and Judge John Roll are federal people, federal crimes were committed and the FBI has jurisdiction to enter the case. I’ve done a lot of federal criminal defense work, so this is what’s going to happen.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will file a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona charging Loughner with at least one felony offense. The Complaint will have an affidavit attached to it, probably drafted by a U.S. Attorney, setting forth facts that the investigation has turned up. Do not expect that the affidavit will contain all of the facts that are known. The Government has to assert sufficient facts to convince a United States Magistrate Judge that there is probable to believe that the defendant committed the crime(s) charged in the Complaint. The affidavit will be drafted with that in mind.

The main location for the district court is in Phoenix, but there is a branch in Tucson. There is an issue in this case regarding the possibility of prejudice against the defendant, since everyone in the federal courthouse in Tucson and probably the other federal courthouses in Arizona know him well. There may be a motion to change venue that probably is a good idea, so be aware of that. They may bring in a federal judge from some other district in the country, probably a Senior Judge (i.e., semi-retired).

The hearing probably will be scheduled for late Monday morning or sometime in the afternoon to permit Loughner and his counsel sufficient time to review the Complaint and Affidavit. I suspect Loughner is unable to retain counsel, therefore, counsel will be appointed to represent him. That will probably be the Federal Public Defender Office in Tucson and they probably will assign two of their lawyers to represent him. . . . Read the rest of this entry →