The shooting death of a 19-year-old Detroit woman has sparked outrage across the country, and has raised questions as to whether the shooting was racially motivated. While the media and the public speculate as to whether the killing of Renisha McBride was similar to the high-profile killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the homeowner who shot her now faces charges for multiple felony crimes, including murder and weapons charges. That homeowner now alleges that he was acting in self-defense.
The Guardian reports that 54-year-old Theodore Wafer heard a knock on his door in the middle of the night last Friday. Renisha McBride had been involved in a car accident and entered Mr. Wafer’s property to seek help. Mr. Wafer, however, shot the young woman in the face with a shotgun as she stood on his porch. Ms. McBride died from bullet wound.
According to reports, Mr. Wafer called emergency services after he shot Ms. McBride to report the shooting. However, Mr. Wafer subsequently told authorities that the shooting was an accident.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Mr. Wafer was charged this week with second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons charges in the shooting death of Ms. McBride. According to reports, despite his previous allegations that the shooting was accidental, Mr. Wafer’s defense team is claiming that he acted in self-defense when he shot the young woman.
The State of Michigan has a similar law to the one at issue in the Trayvon Martin case. That law is called the “stand-your-ground law” and it permits homeowners to use force when another person breaks into their home. According to prosecutors, however, while there is no duty for a homeowner to retreat in his or her own home, in order to claim self-defense for a murder, the homeowner must have had an honest and reasonable belief that he or she would face imminent death or great bodily harm from the alleged intruder. In this case, it is important to note that while toxicology reports revealed that Ms. McBride had alcohol and marijuana in her system, she was unarmed.
A similar self-defense law to that of Florida and Michigan is contained in Article 7 of the Illinois Criminal Code. Illinois’ self-defense law outlines when it is lawful to use regular force against a person, and when it is lawful to use deadly force. Under the law, a person may be exonerated for the death of another person when he or she used deadly force against that person only when he or she reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or bodily harm to him or herself or another person. When a homeowner kills an intruder to prevent that intruder from unlawfully entering his or her home, the killing is only justifiable if it was used to prevent an assault or violence against the homeowner or another person in the home. It is also justifiable if the homeowner was preventing the intruder from committing a felony inside of the home.
Self-defense is a complicated legal theory under Illinois law. If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws, you should immediately seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact an experienced attorney at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.