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US man who shot woman on porch will face trial

December 19, 2013

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Michigan (AP) — A U.S. man who fatally shot a drunk, unarmed woman on his porch will stand trial for second-degree murder, a judge said Thursday, rejecting a self-defense argument for the killer’s “bad choice.”

There is no dispute that Theodore Wafer shot Renisha McBride, 19, through the screen of his front door in Michigan in the early hours of Nov. 2. His attorneys said he feared for his life, but Judge David Turfe said Wafer had other options.

“We can’t allow (someone) to use a bad decision as a shield to criminal prosecution. ... The defendant made a bad choice,” the judge said.

Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, pointed to Michigan’s 2006 self-defense law.

“If someone is breaking into a home there is a presumption that a homeowner can use deadly force,” she argued.

“You don’t know how many people are out there. ... There’s violent banging on the front door. We have a man alone in his home,” Carpenter said.

But prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark said it’s “ridiculous” to believe that Wafer was deeply afraid but still decided to open the door and fire instead of first calling the police.

“He shoved that shotgun in her face and pulled the trigger,” Hagaman-Clark said.

Wafer, 54, called emergency distpach services around 4:30 a.m. and said he had shot someone who was banging on his door. More than three hours earlier, McBride had crashed her car into a parked car in a residential neighborhood, about a half-mile away in Detroit.

A witness said McBride was bleeding and holding her head, but that she walked away from the scene before an ambulance arrived. It’s still unclear, at least publicly, what she did between the time of the car wreck and her arrival on Wafer’s porch.

An autopsy found McBride had a blood-alcohol level of about 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for driving. She also had been smoking marijuana.

Her best friend, Amber Jenkins, 18, said they had been drinking vodka and playing cards seven to eight hours before the shooting was reported to police.

Spectators, mostly McBride’s family and friends, left the courtroom immediately after the judge’s decision. Wafer lingered and appeared dazed as he stood and looked out a courtroom window. He thanked his attorneys and eventually left through a back door.


Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

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