DETROIT (WWJ) – A toxicology report shows a 19-year-old Detroit woman who was shot to death on a Dearborn Heights porch had alcohol and marijuana in her system when she was killed.
The revelation comes as Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy calls a Friday news conference to make an announcement in the Renisha McBride homicide case.
The report shows that 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.
McBride was shot in the face in the early morning hours Nov. 2 on the porch of a home on Outer Drive near Warren Avenue. Hours earlier, McBride was involved in a car accident several blocks north of where the shooting later occurred. McBride’s family believes she was searching for help when she was killed.
McBride family attorney Gerald Thurswell, who is blunt with his assessment of the 54-year-old homeowner, said regardless of the toxicology report, he is “100-percent” sure criminal charges will be filed in the case.
“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,” Thurswell told WWJ’s John Hewett.
The homeowner, who has not publicly been identified, told police that he thought someone was breaking into home, and that his shotgun accidentally discharged.
“It’s not an accident when you leave your locked home, take the safety off your shotgun and blow off somebody’s head. That’s not an accident. He’ll never be able to prove that. Never,” Thurswell said.
The homeowner’s lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, told The Detroit News her client feels that the shooting was “justified.”
“I’m confident when the evidence comes it will show that my client was justified and acted as a reasonable person would who was in fear for his life,” Carpenter said.
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.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in, said Curt Benson, who teaches at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. “But if they’re not breaking in, you have to show you honestly believed your life was in danger,” Benson said.
The shooting has prompted calls for justice and a thorough investigation from civil rights groups that say race was a factor. McBride was an African-American, but the race of the homeowner has not been revealed by authorities involved in the case.
David Alexander Bullock, founder of Change Agent Consortium, likened the case to that of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
“Dearborn Heights may have its own Trayvon Martin case. A young African-American woman is dead and the shooter is claiming her death was justified,” Bullock said in a statement. “If this had occurred in Detroit we know what the outcome would have been – the same value placed on white lives should be placed on black lives. We all deserve justice.”
The northeast section of Dearborn Heights neighbors Detroit’s far west side and is a diverse area that’s home to white, black and Arab-American residents. The neighborhood where the shooting took place consists mostly of well-kept bungalows and small ranches, and is near a community college branch campus and a mosque.