DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ) – The Michigan Supreme Court will hear the case of a Dearborn Heights man convicted of shooting an unarmed woman on his porch nearly four years ago.
Theodore Wafer, 58, is seeking to have his second-degree murder conviction overturned, saying the jury should have been allowed to find that the fatal shooting of Renisha McBride was in self-defense.
In a case that drew national headlines, Wafer shot McBride in the face through a screen door believing that she was trying to break into his house before dawn on Nov. 2, 2013. He’s currently serving 15-30 years in prison.
The issue for the Supreme Court is jury instructions. The trial judge explained self-defense, but Wafer wanted her to tell jurors that he shot the 19-year-old McBride because he believed she was breaking into his house — a key distinction.
McBride was intoxicated and had crashed her car earlier in the night before ending up on Wafer’s porch. He 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.
Bernita Spinks, McBride’s aunt, said this was anything but a self-defense shooting.
“Theodore Wafer’s house looks like my sister’s house. Renisha thought she was at home. By her being discombobulated and everything, she was knocking at the side door because the side door to they house was just like his house. The front door was just like that,” Spinks told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “She was trying to figure out why wasn’t nobody letting her in and all he had to do was call 911.”
Wafer 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. The shot hit McBride in the face, killing her instantly.
“If it was self-defense, why did he unlock his door if he was that scared? He wouldn’t have never unlocked his door if he was that scared. He unlocked that door and shot her,” said Spinks. “When has a burglar ever knocked at your door? A burglar is going to kick the door in, break the window or do something. She didn’t do any of that. So how is it self-defense?”
McBride had an extremely high blood-alcohol level and traces of marijuana in her system, but Spinks said that shouldn’t matter.
“Renisha had a car accident. Renisha had been drinking. Renisha had been smoking. This is what all these young folks doing right now, all you’ve got to do is go on Facebook. She didn’t do nothing different then the average teenager. Ok? And she had an accident and was disoriented,” she said.
The court will determine whether or not the jury should be entitled to consider self-defense and then order a new trial.
“If they go and they want to give him a new trial — what about Kwame Kilpatrick that’s in jail for 28 years, didn’t never kill anybody, all he did is bribe somebody out of some money. You know, my niece is dead. This man is still alive, still breathing, still can eat, still can see his family. You know, we miss her every day. She was only 19-years-old,” said Spinks. “If they go off to this, I’m going to start screaming racism because he deserves more years than he got. He killed a baby.”