Thursday, September 04, 2014

US homeowner jailed for 17 years for shooting teenage accident victim on his porch

This is a political verdict. He is being made a scapegoat for black anger. What's an elderly man in reasonable fear of his life supposed to do? I would have described this as an unfortunate accident

An American homeowner who shot and killed a teenager on his porch in suburban Detroit as she sought his help following a car crash has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Theodore Wafer fired at Renisha McBride, 19, in the early hours of the morning after being woken from his sleep by a knock at the door.

He told police he thought the noise was from a burglar and feared his life was in danger, but was convicted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in August.

As Wafer is white and his victim was African-American, the case came at a sensitive time for an America which appears increasingly divided over issues of both race and gun control, following a series of incidents in which unarmed black people were shot and killed, often at the hands of the police.

Last month there were weeks of riots in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer, and in 2012 the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighbourhood watch coordinator also led to protests. Both teenagers were unarmed.

Wafer, 55, was sentenced to between 15 and 30 years over the death of McBride, plus an additional two years for a felony weapons charge.

The court heard the teenager had been drinking before getting into a car accident in November.

Witnesses said she appeared disorientated and refused offers of help, staggering off into the night rather than listening to calls to stay by her car.

It is unclear how McBride ended up on the front porch of Wafer’s suburban bungalow, which is in a middle-class, largely white suburb adjoining the bankrupt, crime-hit and predominantly black city of Detroit, Michigan.

She banged on the door, before moving around to the side of the house and then back to the front.

The airport worker opened the door and fired a single shotgun blast, which killed her.

At the start of the sentencing hearing, Wafer wept as he apologised for his actions. He said: "To the parents, family and friends of Renisha McBride, I apologise from the bottom of my heart and I am truly sorry for your loss. I can only hope and pray that somehow you can forgive me."

The court also heard statements from McBride’s father and two of her sisters.

The words of younger sister Jasmine were read by her father after she said she had been experiencing panic attacks and was too upset to attend the hearing.

She said: "Many days I think about the good times we shared and how it was cut short by a person's cowardly actions.

"I was taught to apologise when I made a mistake or an accident. Never once had I heard Mr Wafer send his condolences. I find it very hard to believe that his actions were an accident."

Prosecutors had recommended that Judge Dana Hathaway give Wafter to 17 years, a period of time his attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, described as a "death sentence" given his age.

Original report here


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