A jury yesterday found Theodore Wafer, the Michigan man who shot and killed Renisha McBride, guilty of murder. The ruling disputed his claim that the killing was an act of self-defense justified under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Wafer, a 55-year-old white man, was found guilty of one count of felony firearm, homicide, and the second-degree murder of McBride, a 19-year-old black woman. A 12-person jury deliberated over the decision for nearly ten hours over two days. Wafer will appear in court for sentencing Aug 25.
“As much as I think there was a sigh of relief when this verdict was rendered, there was also this sense that this was an exceptional case, and that this really could’ve gone another way,” Dr. Treva Lindsey, Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University, said on Huffington Post Live. “Due to the sexist and racist logic embedded in our American injustice system [that] so often that leaves bodies like Renisha even a perpetrator in death. We still refer to it as the Renisha McBride trial as opposed to the Theodore Wafer trial. She’s not even given the adequate status of a victim in this instance.”
In November 2013, Wafer shot McBride when she came to his Dearborn, Michigan home looking for help following a car accident. WDIV-TV in Detroit reported that McBride knocked on the door and windows of Wafer’s home. Wafer said he believed he was in danger and that more than one person was outside, so he retrieved his firearm. He did not call police until after he shot and killed McBride, who was unarmed. When he was charged, he maintained that he had acted in self-defense, claiming that Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law should be applicable to his case.
Stand Your Ground laws, which allow individuals to act with force in self-defense even if they themselves have not been attacked with force, exist in approximately 30 states nationwide. McBride’s death, which followed the Trayvon Martin case and arrest of Marissa Alexander, re-ignited dialogue nationwide about how those laws not only fail to protect people of color, but also put them in direct danger and disadvantage within the justice system. Some activists, however, believe the overall response to Renisha McBride’s murder still has not resonated as much as the recent deaths of African American males whose killers also claimed Stand Your Ground laws as a defense.
“The thing that I felt yesterday, in addition to a level of relief, still, to me, the Internet was really, really, really silent,” said Dr. Brittney Cooper, Assistant Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers Universities, said in the same Huffington Post Live segment. “When you compare the level of conversation… Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and Eric Garner, I don’t feel like we got the level of catharsis for having gotten a conviction with Renisha.”
Media Resources: Detroit Free Press 8/7/14; HuffPost Live 8/8/14; Feminist Newswire 11/15/13; WDIV-TV 11/7/13; Feminist Newswire 7/15/13; Feminist Newswire 7/29/14