DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ/AP) – Michigan’s Supreme Court has denied a Detroit-area man’s request for a new trial in the 2013 fatal shooting of an unarmed woman on his porch.
The court said Friday that it would not review Theodore Wafer’s argument that jurors should have been given instruction that said he shot Renisha McBride because her actions showed she was breaking into his house.
Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway explained self-defense to jurors but rejected that specific instruction. Hathaway said the evidence didn’t show that McBride, who was drunk and had crashed her car, was trying to break into Wafer’s home.
Michigan’s appeals court upheld Hathaway’s decision.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Markman dissented in Friday’s order, writing that Wafer was “deprived of a critical protection at trial” which “prejudiced the outcome.”
Wafer shot 19-year-old McBride in this face through a screen door when she knocked on his door early in the morning. He claimed he acted in self defense, but jurors — convicted the then 55-year-old of second-degree murder.
Wafer had been sleeping in a recliner and said he couldn’t immediately find his phone to call police when he awoke to an “unbelievable” pounding on his doors and feared for his life. He testified that he opened his front door and noticed the screen door had been tampered with, then opened the front door further before a figure emerged quickly from the side of the house. He said he raised his shotgun and fired.
McBride was drunk and had crashed her car that night, about a half-mile away from Wafer’s home, according to authorities. Experts said at trial that she was two to eight feet away from the shotgun when it was discharged, but more likely at the short end of that range.
While Wafer is white and McBride was black, defense attorneys said race wasn’t a factor; that Wafer was just a homeowner who was aware of crime in a neighborhood that borders Detroit and wanted to protect himself. Wafer said it was only after he discharged the weapon that he realized the person on his porch was a woman.
Prosecutors countered that Wafer should have called 911, and that he acted with negligence, thoughtlessly taking the life of “a young girl looking for help.”
Wafer, a former airport maintenance worker, was sentenced to 15-30 years for second degree murder, and an additional two years on a felony firearm charge. He remains behind bars at the Alger Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.