Judge Rules Victim’s Text Can’t Be Used In Defense At Porch Shooting Trial
DETROIT (AP/WWJ) – The test messages of 19-year-old Renisha McBride cannot be used by the defense in the upcoming murder trial of 55-year-old Theodore Wafer, who killed the unarmed young woman on his front porch.
Attorney Cheryl Carpenter said slang references to marijuana were critical for the defense because they suggest McBride was selling drugs and may have had an aggressive side.
“I don’t want to use this to drag her through the mud. You won’t hear me argue at trial she’s a bad person. … If you strip this from me, you’re going to hamstring the defense,” Carpenter said.
“She was doing something that night she shouldn’t have been,” Carpenter said. “She had text messages showing she was going up to a spot to deal drugs,” Carpenter said.
But prosecutors argued that, even if McBride was a drug dealer, that information is not legally admissible and relevant to the case.
Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway agreed, ruling that using the messages as evidence would be “unfairly prejudicial” because none of them show the McBride was an aggressor before she was shot in the face last November outside Wafer’s Dearborn Heights home.
Wafer, 55, is charged with second-degree murder. His lawyers say he shot McBride in self-defense because he feared for his safety when she banged on his door before dawn. Prosecutors, however, say he should have kept the door closed and called 911.
Hathaway plowed through a stack of issues ahead of a July 21 trial. She said the jury won’t be allowed to see a map of police runs reported in Wafer’s neighborhood last year – evidence collected by the defense to show he was on alert about trouble on his street.
The judge said retired medical examiner Dr. Werner Spitz can testify about the body’s reaction to sudden fear but cannot give an opinion about whether Wafer was justified in shooting McBride.
McBride, who had an extremely high blood-alcohol level, was shot three hours after she walked away from a car crash, about a half-mile away in Detroit. It’s not known where she went on foot before arriving at Wafer’s porch.
“She didn’t speak a single word at Mr. Wafer’s house,” Carpenter said.
The judge didn’t immediately rule on whether the defense can use selfies from McBride’s phone showing her with money, alcohol, marijuana and what appears to be a gun. Prosecutors said the photos, like the text messages, don’t belong in the case.
“Just because it’s on your phone, doesn’t say anything about who you are as a person,” said assistant prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark
Holding up her own phone Hagaman-Clark offered a hypothetical.
“You might find a naked picture of me. Does that make me a hooker?” she asked.
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