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The Context Behind the Renisha McBride Trial

What Murdered Black Boys Mean for the Renisha McBride Trial

Though the proceedings have not officially started, the victim is clearly already on trial. Last month, to build a case casting McBride as a credible threat, Carpenter pushed to include the deceased’s texts, social media, emails, school records and a previous legal history as evidence to ascertain "whether Ms. McBride had a character trait for aggression" and assert that she was a drug dealer. But on June 27, a judge denied Carpenter’s request, citing that the messages did not portray the deceased as an aggressor before she was fatally shot.

Ultimately, it is not clear how Michigan’s legal definition of self defense will come into play during Wafer’s trial, but Detroit criminal attorney Jeffrey L. Edison says you can never extricate race from the criminal justice system.

“A lot will depend on the jury’s perception in terms of Wafer having an honest and reasonable belief he was about to sustain serious bodily harm or death,” Edison tells Jezebel. “If you have a jury of persons who have similar perceptions of fear and stereotypical fear of African Americans, Wafer might prevail because America has a problem with perceiving African Americans as criminals and when people see a criminal, they think of African Americans. It’s a socio-political dynamic that emanates from White supremacy and we struggle with it every day in the courts.”

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