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Michigan homeowner who shot black woman on porch is charged

DETROIT — Prosecutors on Friday charged a suburban Detroit homeowner with second-degree murder in the death of a 19-year-old woman who was shot in the face on his porch.

Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, also faces a manslaughter charge in the death of Renisha McBride in the early-morning hours of Nov. 2, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. McBride was shot in the face after police say they believe she was involved in a car accident nearby in Detroit and family members say she likely approached Wafer's home for help.

Civil rights groups have called for a thorough investigation, saying they believe race was a factor in the shooting — McBride was black, Wafer is white. Prosecutors insisted that race was not relevant.

"In this case, the charging decision has absolutely nothing to do with the race of the parties," Worthy said Friday.

Evidence showed McBride knocked on the locked screen door, Worthy said, and that there was no sign of forced entry.

"These are the appropriate charges and he did not act in lawful self-defense," Worthy said.

Wafer is not in custody and prosecutors will ask him to turn himself in, Worthy said. An arraignment is scheduled for 2 p.m. The Associated Press tried to leave a message for Wafer's attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, but her voicemail was full.

Few details of the circumstances surrounding the shooting were made public before the news conference. Police say they believe McBride was involved in a car accident several blocks north in Detroit before the shooting.

A toxicology report released Thursday showed she had alcohol and marijuana in her system. The report said McBride's blood alcohol content was about 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for driving. Her blood also tested positive for the active ingredient in marijuana.

Wafer is also charged with possession of a firearm during the attempted commission of a felony or commission of a felony.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must show that his or her life was in danger.

The northeast section of Dearborn Heights is next to Detroit's far west side and is a diverse area that's home to white, black and Arab-American residents. The neighborhood where the shooting took place consists mostly of well-kept bungalows and small ranches, and is near a community college branch campus and a mosque.

Michigan homeowner who shot black woman on porch is charged 11/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 6:53pm]
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