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Man Arraigned On Second Degree Murder Charge In Renisha McBride Death

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Theodore Paul Wafer (Police photo)

Theodore Paul Wafer (Police photo)

By Christy Strawser, digital director
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and a felony firearm charge in the shooting death of Renisha McBride, 19, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced during a press conference Friday.

Wearing a casual gray T-shirt and jeans, Wafer was arraigned at a court hearing at 2 p.m. — where he waived a hearing on the charges. He said only one word — “yes” in response to the judge’s question about whether it was his decision to waive.

The prosecutor sought a $250,000 bond for the man who was identified as a 10-year worker at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, though the defense noted Wafer has a clean criminal record — except for an old driving under the influence conviction — and a high security clearance at his job.

Bond was set at $250,000/10 percent.

Wafer had reportedly told police he killed McBride — whom Worthy described as “bleeding and disoriented” after a car crash  — in self defense. Police confiscated a 12-gauge shotgun from near the front door; the gun’s case was in a bedroom. The gun blast went through the front screen door, according to a police report.

“There is no duty to retreat when you’re in your own house,” Worthy said, quoting Michigan law, and adding the person acting in self defense must believe their life is in danger.

“These are the appropriate charges and he did not act in lawful self-defense,” Worthy said.

The death of the teen, allegedly at the hands of a shotgun-wielding Wafer, has been a flashpoint, with protesters calling the incident “another Trayvon.” McBride was unarmed, and allegedly looking for help in the well-kept Dearborn Heights neighborhood when she was killed.

“She was found with a very large gunshot would to the face,” Worthy said, adding there were no signs of forced entry to the home.

Police long refused to reveal the race of the man who pulled the trigger, and Worthy says that fact is irrelevant. “In this case, the charging decision has absolutely nothing to do with the race of the parties,” Worthy said.

Worthy said the victim and Wafer did not know each other.

Many have said he thought the young woman was trying to break into his home.

[LISTEN TO THE 911 CALL]

“This was a man who did not value human life. If he valued human life, he would have called 911 and not gone out of his home where he was safe, with doors locked, and blow off her head. He doesn’t value life,” McBride family attorney Gerald Thurswell told WWJ’s John Hewett.

A toxicology report released Wednesday shows McBride’s blood-alcohol content was roughly 0.22 percent – more than twice the .08 legal limit for driving in Michigan and eleven times the .02 legal limit for minors. The report also shows that McBride had traces of marijuana in her system.

The teen was wearing black boots, dark jeans, a blue hoodie, and had $56 in her back pocket when she was shot in the face in the early morning hours Nov. 2 on the porch of a home on Outer Drive near Warren Avenue, according to a police report. Hours earlier, McBride was involved in a car accident several blocks north of where the shooting later occurred.

WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said the toxicology report might have some impact on the case and the suspect’s defense.

“Absent other factors, the fact that Miss McBride was drunk or high does not justify her death. Now, the shooter, on the other hand, may try to infer that Miss McBride was attempting to break into the house and her intoxication justified the shooter’s fear of a break in,” Langton said.

When asked by a reporter, Worthy said she did not believe Wafer was tested for drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.

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