Theodore Wafer has been found guilty of Second Degree Murder/Voluntary Manslaughter and weapons charges

Just how much trouble can you make for yourself when you talk too much after a shooting? Here’s an example from the “porch shooting” trial of Theodore Wafer.

Note that this particular case may not be an example of a “good” self defense shooting, however it shows that what you say to police can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of a trial.

The jury has returned a verdict of guilty of second degree murder/voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges in the trial of Detroit homeowner Theodore Wafer for the front porch shooting death of Renisha McBride in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013. Trial Judge Hathaway has ordered Wafer imprisoned immediately, pending sentencing.

Wafer’s legal defense against the charge was self-defense. The guilty verdict necessarily means that the jury unanimously agreed that the prosecution had disproved Wafer’s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The two strongest arguments counter to self-defense were:

“Accident” and “I didn’t know the gun was loaded”

(1) Wafer’s early and repeated references to the shooting as an “accident,” including his claims that he was unaware the shotgun was loaded, only to later claim the shooting was an act of “self-defense.”

“Accident” and “self-defense” are logically inconsistent arguments. “Self-defense” is an inherently intentionally act–I see a threat, I respond to the threat. “Accident” is by definition something we do not intend. When a defendant argues one, they generally lose the other–sometimes as a matter of law, often just in terms of the credibility of their narrative of innocence with the jury. The prosecution in this trial also requested and received a jury instruction on prior false exculpatory statements as consciousness of guilt evidence, and that certainly could not have helped the jury lean towards self-defense if they believed Wafer’s early claims of “accident” were an effort to escape legal jeopardy.

You can read the entire story at Legal Insurrection.

Most likely, Wafer’s comments were “excited utterances” while under the influence of adrenaline immediately following the event. You can read more about the pitfalls of the excited utterance here.