Renisha McBride's parents speak during a news conference, saying they are still trying to understand why a homeowner in Dearborn Heights, Mich., shot their daughter.
Detroit News Screenshot

During an interview on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, legal analyst Midwin Charles said that the recent revelation that Renisha McBride’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit and contained traces of marijuana at the time of her death might affect how the case plays out, especially if it gets to a jury, News One reports.

“What I think it may do is alter the perception of who this woman is, in terms of … how people view the victim,” Charles told Martin. “You can remember in the Trayvon Martin shooting, a lot of people started to kind of alter their view of who Trayvon Martin was when it was said they found marijuana in his system. So sometimes that play a role in how people view the victim.”

Advertisement

Charges were filed this week against 54-year-old Theodore P. Wafer, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., in McBride’s Nov. 2 death. The charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter followed a loud public uproar over law enforcement’s failure to make an immediate arrest of the man, who is white after he reportedly shot the 19-year-old victim in the face. She reportedly arrived on his porch in the early morning in search of help following a car accident.

It’s unclear what kind of argument Wafer’s defense team plans to wage, but the bar will be high, Time magazine reports.

“The standard for self-defense is that you reasonably perceive a threat of death or serious bodily harm from the other person. You respond with equal force. You can’t use deadly force ample to defend your home or to prevent someone from stealing your property. It can only be used for self-defense or defense of others,” Professor Peter Henning, who teaches criminal law at Wayne State University law school in Detroit, told Time.

Advertisement

He added that it’s possible there could have been a valid argument of self-defense if the defendant was behind a locked screen door. “It is possible that there was shouting, or perhaps an effort to open up the door, or bang on a window or something like that could give him a basis to believe that there was a threat that someone was going to break into his home,” he told Time. “From there, you could infer a threat of death or serious bodily harm.”

Read more at News One and Time magazine.