DETROIT (WWJ) – Is Theodore Wafer guilty of second degree murder?
A Wayne County jury went home without reaching a verdict, Wednesday, in the case of the 55-year-old man who killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch last fall.
Wafer does not deny fatally shooting the unarmed woman; but testified that he did so in self-defense after she pounded on his door and tried to break into his Dearborn Heights home on Nov. 2.
McBride, who had an extremely high blood-alcohol level, was shot in the face three hours after she walked away from a car crash in Detroit— about a half-mile away from Wafer’s home.
In closing arguments, prosecutors argued that they have met the elements of second-degree murder. Patrick Muscat said Wafer shot McBride because he was upset and wanted a confrontation when she knocked on his door at 4:30 a.m.
He showed a form to the jury indicating that Wafer caused McBride’s death and intended to kill and/or intended to create great bodily harm and/or knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm.
Muscat told jury that Wafer did not have to kill McBride. “He had so many other options,” said Muscat.
Muscat said Wafer’s Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun “is a dangerous weapon, and the way he handled it – he handled it like a toy….And as a result, a 19-year-old is dead.”
“There is no excuse for what Mr. Wafer did, we ask that you return a verdict of guilty second degree murder,” Muscat said.
But Wafer’s attorney Cheryl Carpenter said “fear hijacks the body,” arguing that Wafer’s actions were reasonable because he feared for his life.
“…The law of self defense is the ultimate protection for every single one of us,” Carpenter said.
In her one-hour statement, Carpenter disputed the argument that Wafer changed his story, saying he initially told police the shooting was an accident because “he is not a wordsmith” and didn’t know how else to put it.
“This is not a race trial. Ted liked his neighborhood and it was a mixed neighborhood,” Carpenter added.
Carpenter mentioned that Detroit’s police chief had recently encouraged city residents to arm themselves. “That’s what Ted did. He armed himself,” she said. “He armed himself. He was getting attacked,” Carpenter said. “Put yourselves in his shoes at 4:30 in the morning.”
Carpenter finished her argument by telling the jury to send Wafer home.
Jurors could convict Wafer of the lesser charge of manslaughter or he could be acquitted of all charges if the jury believes he had a reasonable and honest belief that his life was at risk.
After just three hours of deliberations during which jurors asked to see the gun used in the shooting, jurors were sent home just after 4 p.m.
As he left the court room, Wafer hugged his attorney.
Deliberations will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.
One side note from the trial: WWJ’s Jon Hewett reported a video crew covering the case for various networks had their van stolen from outside of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. Police are investigating. (More HERE).