Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Man who fired through screen door found guilty of murder

A jury convicted a Detroit homeowner of second-degree murder and manslaughter Thursday in the killing of an unarmed woman on his porch last year, rejecting his claim that he was afraid for his life when he heard the woman pounding on his door in the middle of the night and had acted in self-defense.

Theodore Wafer, 55, shot Renisha McBride through a screen door on Nov. 2, hours after she crashed into a parked car a half-mile from his house. No one knows why she ended up at the Dearborn Heights home, although prosecutors speculated that the intoxicated 19-year-old woman may have been seeking help.

Wafer faces up to life in prison, but it's likely his punishment will be shorter.

"We learned he was a cold-blooded killer," McBride's father, Walter Simmons, told reporters. "People have a right to bear their arms and everything else, but you have to do it with reason and responsibility."

During closing arguments, prosecutor Patrick Muscat said McBride "just wanted to go home" the morning she was killed.

"She ended up in the morgue with bullets in her head and in her brain because the defendant picked up this shotgun, released this safety, raised it at her, pulled the trigger and blew her face off," Muscat told jurors, holding the gun.

Wafer, an airport maintenance employee who lives alone, said he was roused out of sleep around 4:30 a.m. by pounding at his front and side doors. He testified that the noises were "unbelievable."

"I wasn't going to cower in my house," Wafer said.

He said he thought there could have been more than one person outside his 1,100-square-foot home. He pulled the trigger "to defend myself. It was them or me."

"He armed himself. He was getting attacked," his lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, told jurors. "Put yourselves in his shoes at 4:30 in the morning."

But prosecutors said Wafer could have stayed safely in his locked home and called 911 instead of confronting McBride.

"He had so many other options. ... We wouldn't be here if he had called police first," Muscat told the jury.

Wafer is white and McBride was black, but race was hardly mentioned at the trial.

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