DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit-area 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 the early hours of Nov. 2. His attorneys said the 54-year-old man feared for his life, but Dearborn Heights Judge David Turfe said there were other ways to protect himself, including a phone call for help.
“This court recognizes you can’t automatically penalize someone for making a bad decision when pressed to react quickly,” the judge said. “But at the same time we can’t allow one to use a bad decision as a shield to criminal prosecution.
“The defendant made a bad choice when there were other reasonable opportunities,” Turfe said.
The standard for a court to order someone to trial in Michigan is not as high as beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the common, traditional threshold to win a criminal conviction. Prosecutors must show only a portion of their evidence at this stage. Indeed, Wafer apparently made a one-hour recorded statement to police, but it was not introduced, despite efforts by his lawyers.
Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter said Wafer didn’t intend to kill McBride, only protect himself. She referred 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 Wayne County assistant prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark said it’s “ridiculous” to believe that Wafer was deeply afraid yet still decided to open the door and fire instead of first calling Dearborn Heights police.
“He shoved that shotgun in her face and pulled the trigger,” Hagaman-Clark said.
Civil rights groups have suggested that race may have played a role in the shooting, but prosecutors presented no evidence to make that connection. Wafer is white, while McBride was black.
Wafer called 911 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. She apparently 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 911.
Spectators, mostly McBride’s family and friends, left the courtroom immediately after the judge’s decision. Wafer, an airport maintenance worker, lingered and appeared dazed as he stood and looked out a courtroom window. He thanked his attorneys and left through a back door.
A second-degree murder conviction can carry a sentence of up to life in prison. A trial judge would have discretion.
Carpenter told reporters the ruling was a disappointment.
“We look forward to trial where you will get all of the evidence,” she said.
Before hearing final arguments, the judge rejected Carpenter’s request to play Wafer’s recorded statement to police. It was not introduced by prosecutors when they presented evidence Wednesday.
Hagaman-Clark, citing Michigan court rules, successfully argued that the defense could play the video only if Wafer would agree to testify and open himself up to cross-examination.
“The videotaped statement is not subject to cross-examination,” the prosecutor said.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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