A Black judge who was to oversee the Renisha McBride murder case has been asked to step down, according to report on The Huffington Post. A Wayne County Circuit judge recused Qiana Lillard from the trial of Theodore Wafer, the Detroit homeowner who shot and killed McBride when she appeared on his porch in the wee hours of November 2 last year.
McBride, 19, crashed her car around midnight that night and her whereabouts are unknown for several hours after the crash. At about 4 a.m., she walked onto the porch and knocked on Wafer’s door in Dearborn Heights. He shot and killed her through the screen door. Wafer, 55, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and a related felony gun charge.
Though he says he was in fear for his life, others have questioned why he didn’t call the police instead of shooting an unarmed woman. While McBride’s family hasn’t said race was an issue in the shooting, it does raise questions. Her family believes that McBride may have been looking for help, or could have mistaken Wafer’s house for her own which was not far away.
McBride, whose blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit to drive in Detroit, also tested positive for marijuana usage. In a strategy reminiscent of those in other case where race may have played a role, McBride’s life and activities may become part of the defense. At issue with Lillard’s role in the trial was her friendship with Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy as well as her social media connections with other country prosecutors including one who is prosecuting the case.
One was part of Lillard’s campaign committee and sold tickets to a fundraiser on her behalf, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. LIllard initially refused to step down, saying that ““This court doesn’t have any personal acquaintances … that would preclude it from being fair and impartial in this case or any other matter that might come before it…court holds no bias in any side of this case.”
Wafer’s attorney argued that no personal bias is implied but that the appearance of such could her her client.
“The risk that Judge Lillard would subconsciously use personal and/or political relationships with the prosecution to Mr. Wafer’s detriment is simply too great here.”
Wafer’s trial begins in June.