DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A hearing has been postponed on pre-trial matters in the case of a Detroit-area man who fatally shot an unarmed woman on his porch, five weeks before trial is set to begin.
Theodore Wafer’s lawyers want to tell jurors about crime trends in his Dearborn Heights neighborhood. They also want the judge to allow them to show text messages, photos and school records involving the victim, Renisha McBride.
Wafer’s defense team argues it’s all relevant to show McBride had an aggressive side. Prosecutors are opposed. A court hearing set for Friday was rescheduled for June 20.
Wafer is charged with second-degree murder for shooting the 19-year-old McBride on his porch before dawn.
There’s no dispute that Wafer, 55, shot McBride in the face 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’s lawyers insist he opened the front door and fired in self-defense, fearing that the drunken woman was trying to break into his home before dawn. Prosecutors, however, say he should have called 911 and kept the door shut.
The shooting happened three hours after McBride’s car struck a parked car about a half-mile away in Detroit. Witnesses say she was injured but walked away. It’s not known where she went before arriving at Wafer’s porch.
A toxicology report that 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. Wafer was not tested for alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident.
One of Wafer’s attorneys, Cheryl Carpenter, said suggestions that McBride was Wafer’s porch simply to seek help after a car crash are “fiction” and “utterly erroneous.”
Carpenter is asking a judge to let jurors see photos from McBride’s phone that show her with wads of money, alcohol and marijuana. One is a blurry photo of McBride holding what appears to be a gun. The dates are not known.
Days after the shooting, a man who lived in Wafer’s neighborhood was arrested after police found guns and marijuana, Carpenter said.
“Ms. McBride could have thought she was breaking into her marijuana supplier’s house” when she was shot on the porch, the defense attorney claims.
Carpenter said text messages, photos, school records and a previous run-in with the law are relevant to “whether Ms. McBride had a character trait for aggression.” Prosecutors, however, will argue they’re not relevant.
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