On Wednesday, Theodore Wafer was sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in jail for shooting an unarmed teenager on his front porch last year.
The death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride garnered similar headlines of other notable cases involving self-defense pleas, the castle law, or "Stand Your Ground," but the conviction and harsher-than-expected sentencing of Wafer represents a deviation from the script.
Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and a felony weapons charge. His defense attorney asked for a six-year sentence for the 55-year-old airport worker, but the judge sentenced Wafer to 15-30 years plus an additional two years for the weapons charge.
Unlike previous cases, the details of the incident were not in dispute and, according to most accounts, the issue of race was largely absent from the courtroom narrative. From The Times:
The question for jurors was whether Mr. Wafer had acted in self-defense. He testified that he had been asleep in his living-room recliner around 4:30 a.m. when he was jolted awake by pounding on his doors. He was terrified, he said, and within minutes scrambled for his shotgun stashed in a closet, believing that someone was trying to break into his home, just across the city line from Detroit.
As the AP noted, Wafer apologized to the McBride family and expressed his contrition in the courtroom on Wednesday:
"I will carry that guilt and sorrow forever," said Wafer, often pausing to control his emotions.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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