Man convicted in 2013 porch killing wants manslaughter conviction dropped, claims double jeopardy

Posted at 12:47 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 18:23:03-04

DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WXYZ) — "Let the conviction stick. Let him do his time," said Monica McBride whose 19-year-old daughter Renisha was shot and killed by Theodore Wafer in 2013.

"He had choices, but he chose to shoot her," said Renisha's father, Walter Ray Simmons.

The parents are hoping attorneys for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office are successful when they deliver their oral arguments to the Michigan Supreme Court Thursday in hopes of keeping Wafer in prison for the rest of the 17 year sentence he received for Renisha's murder.

Wafer was convicted of second degree murder, manslaughter, and felony firearms. He and his attorney are seeking to have the conviction and sentence for manslaughter dropped, calling the two convictions that involve a death "double jeopardy."

"Mr. Wafer cannot be convicted and sentenced for two homicides in the death of one person," Attorney Jacqueline McCann wrote in her brief to the Michigan Supreme Court. "Manslaughter must be set aside, and the case remanded for resentencing on second-degree murder," she added.

In the early morning hours of November 2, 2013, Renisha McBride crashed her car near the home of Theodore Wafer.

McBride had been drinking and went to Wafer's house looking for help or perhaps thinking it was her home. The two were strangers.

When he took the stand in his own defense, Wafer described a banging on his door and windows that was so hard that he claimed his floors were "vibrating" and the windows were "rattling."

Wafer testified that he couldn't immediately find his cell phone so he grabbed a baseball bat and then a firearm.

He said he thought someone was about to break in and that scared him but he also admitted to being mad. He said on other occasions, young people in the area had caused disturbances outside.

"I had to find out what was going on. I wanted to investigate this. I wasn't going to cower in my house. I didn't want to be a victim," he testified.

Wafer testified that he opened his front door and fired when he saw someone suddenly appear.

Wafer has now served seven years of his 17 year sentence. And prosecutors argue that there is no double jeopardy because Wafer's convictions for second degree murder and manslaughter are distinctly different.

"Where each of two charged offenses contains an element the other does not, a presumption arises that multiple convictions and punishment are authorized, a presumption which may be overcome by a showing of clear legislative intent to the contrary," wrote Tim Baughman, Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, in his brief to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Baughman argues that the offenses of manslaughter and second degree murder "each contain an element the other does not."

Oral arguments before Michigan Supreme Court are expected to begin Thursday morning. A decision may not come for a couple months or as late as July, 2022.