DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at the case of a Dearborn Heights man who fatally shot an unarmed woman on his front porch in 2013.
The court is focusing on jury instructions in Theodore Wafer’s highly publicized trial.READ MORE: Interest In Unionizing Grows Among Michigan Starbucks Workers
Wafer shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in this face through a screen door when she knocked on his door early in the morning.
Wafer said 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.
Wafer wanted a jury instruction that said he feared harm because McBride was trying to break into his house. But Judge Dana Hathaway said the evidence didn’t support it.READ MORE: Delta Unveils New Face Recognition Screen That Displays Personalized Flight Information
In an order released Wednesday, the Supreme Court said it will hear arguments about whether the lack of that jury instruction violated Wafer’s rights.
McBride was drunk and had crashed her car that night, about a half-mile away from Wafer’s home, according to authorities.
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.
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.Highland Park Shooting Suspect Bobby Crimo III Charged With 7 Counts Of First-Degree Murder
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