Can Renisha Mcbride Killer Claim Stand Your Ground Defense?

A common thread in many of the cases where a person claimed a stand your ground defense after killing an innocent, unarmed person, is that there is usually no other defense for the killer to stand on. The killer of Renisha Mcbride will likely not claim stand your ground.

A pretty young African-American woman, 19 year-old Mcbride, a 2012 Southfield High School graduate, had wrecked her 2004 Ford Taurus in the early morning hours of November 2. She apparently walked into the suburban neighborhood of predominantly white Dearborn Heights, Michigan looking for help. It’s not clear why she could not use a cell phone to call for help.

Renisha Mcbride
Renisha Mcbride

Mcbride was shot in the head at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun after banging on a door at the home of Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, now charged with manslaughter, second-degree murder, and felony use of a firearm in her death.

Toxicology reports show McBride had a blood alcohol content of 0.218%, more than twice the legal limit, and a trace amount of marijuana in her body when she walked up on Wafer’s porch. Wafer reportedly claimed he thought it was a burglar and that the shotgun discharged by accident.

Theodore Paul Wafer
Theodore Paul Wafer (Dearborn Heights Police Dept.)

The state of Michigan does have a “stand your ground” law – a self-defense statute that includes the “no duty to retreat” clause.

However, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has already dismissed the notion of a stand your ground defense. “The evidence will show that self-defense was not warranted,” Worthy said.

“Under Michigan law, there is no duty to retreat in your own home; however, someone who claims self-defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm, and that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm”, said Worthy.

Many people are comparing this incident to the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, an African-American former college football player killed in North Carolina by police under similar circumstances in September after his car broke down.

Jonathan Ferrell
Jonathan Ferrell

Before anyone goes further in the discussion of SYG as it applies to the Renisha Mcbride case, or a crusade to use this as a prudent stand your ground case, it’s wise to acknowledge that this should not be construed as a stand your ground situation. There are many other cases with circumstances that clearly afford the claim. Caution should be used before any presumptions of the shooter’s intent.

While the McBride shooting simply exemplifies the danger of stand your ground laws, her killer has not claimed a stand your ground defense as immunity from prosecution for a justifiable homicide. And self-defense in your home – where you have the right to be – is automatically afforded universally under Castle Doctrine.

Wafer’s attorneys may possibly try to secure the stand your ground option, but it would be a foolish move. He did, in fact, use the indoctrinated “no duty to retreat”. Yet there is no indication he was ever faced with the threat of injury or death from Renisha Mcbride, and has not claimed the perceived fear nor premise necessary to secure a stand your ground defense.

Initial police report from November 2, 2013:

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8 thoughts on “Can Renisha Mcbride Killer Claim Stand Your Ground Defense?

  1. Renisha was pretty heavily intoxicated, she might have thought she was home. If that were the case then the homeowner could have called the police, there was no reason to shoot her. The exact same scenario actually happened to my family and I. My husband and I went to the door but did not open it because the person was so intoxicated and incoherent. I called the police department while my husband stood behind the door with a baseball bat. The police officer knew the man as he has done this before and once lived in the neighborhood.


      1. That is scary … another good reason to leave guns and liquor alone.

        There is a reason I do not allow guns in my house, I come from a long line of gun nuts. No good can come from a gun because there are so many variables with human nature.

        Since this being drunk and going to the wrong house, it seems like someone should bring awareness to the situation.

        Thank you for posting this.


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