After less than two days of deliberations, four black and eight white jurors found a Michigan man guilty today of killing an unarmed woman on his front porch last fall, in a case with echoes of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, but now a much different outcome. Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights was convicted on all three counts in the shooting of 19-year-old Renisha McBride, including second-degree murder, manslaughter, and use of a firearm in a felony.
McBride was intoxicated and had been in a car accident a few hours earlier when she turned up, by chance, at Wafer’s house to seek help around 4 a.m. on a November night. In his testimony, Wafer said he heard loud banging but could not find his cell phone to call 911, so he grabbed his gun instead. “I needed to find out what was going on. I was not going to cower. I didn’t want to be a victim in my own house,” he said.
“He wanted a confrontation,” said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Pat Muscat in his closing argument. “He wanted the neighborhood kids to leave him alone.” State law says homeowners can use force during a robbery, while the “castle doctrine,” similar to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, means a person is not required to “retreat” in their home. Self-defense requires a person to “honestly and reasonably believe” they are in danger before using deadly force.
“He raised the gun and he shot and he killed Renisha McBride,” said Muscat. “She’s not here to tell you what happened that night because of his actions. He shot her through a locked door.”
According to Wafer, it all happened in a “split second.” In his teary testimony, he said, “This poor girl. She had her whole life in front of her. I took that from her.” At a sentencing hearing on August 21, he faces life in prison.