DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A June trial is scheduled for a Detroit-area man charged with second-degree murder after shooting a young woman on his porch.
Theodore Wafer was arraigned Wednesday in Wayne County Circuit Court about a month after a judge in another court found probable cause to send him to trial. A not guilty plea was entered. Judge Qiana Lillard said the trial, scheduled to begin June 2, will take at least two weeks and include testimony from about 25 witnesses.
Wafer shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face through his screen door before dawn on Nov. 2. Court testimony shows that Wafer was about 3-feet from McBride when he pulled the trigger on his 12-gauge shotgun.
Wafer said he opened fire because he feared for his safety at his Dearborn Heights home, located on Outer Drive near Warren Avenue. However, police said there were no signs of forced entry to the home.
Hours before her death, McBride smashed her car into a parked car about a half-mile away in Detroit. Witnesses say she was injured but walked away.
Carmen Beasley of Detroit testified that at about 1 a.m. on the night of McBride’s death, she heard a loud crash and realized her husband’s car, which was parked on the street, had been hit. “I watched a little bit,” Beasley testified, saying the driver later identified at McBride walked away from the crash “like, holding her head.”
She said she asked the teen if she was OK and requested her cell phone so she could call someone she knew for help. “She was like patting her pockets,” Beasley said, adding McBride “just kept saying she wanted to go home.”
“I wanted to get her home; you know, safely,” Beasley said. “And then at that point I saw blood on her hands … I said ‘you’re hurt,’ let me call an ambulance.”
Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Kali Keisha testified that McBride had no marks from a seat belt on her, indicating either she had not been wearing one or the impact was too slight to leave marks. Because of the severe shotgun wound, there was no way to tell if she had an earlier head injury from the crash, Keisha testified.
Wafer told police he killed McBride — whom prosecutor Kym 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. Worthy had said there were no signs of forced entry to the home.
A toxicology report showed 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 showed that McBride had marijuana in her system.
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.
Worthy said she did not believe Wafer was tested for drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
Wafer is out on bond, awaiting the trial.
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