(DETROIT) — The fate of Theodore Wafer, a suburban Detroit man who shot an unarmed teenager on his porch, is now in the hands of the jury.
Wafer, 55, is charged with second degree murder and manslaughter for shooting and killing Renisha McBride, 19, last November when the teenager showed up inebriated on his porch at 4:40 a.m. Wafer said he could only make out a figure around his house, said the person pounded on his door and made him fear for his life.
Throughout the nine days of the trial, the prosecution and defense have presented two dramatically different versions of what happened the night McBride died.
Wayne County Prosecutor Pat Muscat said Wednesday in summation that McBride, who had been drinking and crashed her car in the hours before she died, “just wanted to go home, yet she ended up with bullets in her head.”
Muscat said the teen posed “no imminent threat” to Wafer, who handled his 12 gauge shotgun “like a toy.” Wafer acted not out of fear, but out of anger, frustrated by past incidents in his neighborhood, Muscat said, and, quoting Wafer’s statement to police, he was “full of piss and vinegar.”
Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter told the jury that Wafer “armed himself because he was getting attacked.” She said Wafer believed there were multiple attackers and “thought they were coming in.”
The pounding on the door, she dramatically shouted, was “getting louder and louder and louder until the floor was about to shake.”
For the first time, the issue of race came in to the proceedings when Carpenter said the case “is not a race issue.” She said Wafer is not a racist and did not know the race of the person at his door. Wafer is white. McBride was black.
Wafer, who is unmarried and does not have children, spent two days on the witness stand telling his story of what happened the night McBride died. On Nov. 2, 2013, he said he woke up to the sound of someone banging on his door.
“I needed to find out what was going on,” he said. “I didn’t want to cower in my house, I didn’t want to be a victim.”
Wafer testified that he noticed his screen door was tampered with and he then opened the front door further. He said he saw a figure emerge from the side of the house. He said he then fired his gun.
Wafer testified that he “shot in fear,” but did not shoot at a particular target.
McBride was shot in the face, falling on her back, with her feet facing Wafer’s door, prosecutors said.
Toxicology reports show McBride was drunk when she showed up on Wafer’s porch. Wafer’s house is a half-mile from where McBride had crashed her car earlier that night.
“It was a threat, a threat that was coming in my house,” Wafer testified.
Wafer previously told police he didn’t know his gun was loaded and said he shot McBride by accident, according to a recording played to jurors last week.
During cross examination, assistant prosecutor Athina Siringas poked holes in Wafer’s story. She pointed out that he never told police he couldn’t initially find his phone to call 911 and said he never told them he was scared until he was asked.
“I had a lot of emotions, fear, panicking,” Wafer said. “I guess in front of a cop I didn’t want to come across as less of a man.”
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.
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