By Corey Williams
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, MICH.: A suburban Detroit homeowner was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the death of a 19-year-old woman who was shot in the face while on his front porch nearly two weeks ago.
Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, also faces a manslaughter charge in the death of Renisha McBride, who was killed in the early-morning hours on Nov. 2, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
Police say McBride, a former high school cheerleader, was shot a couple of hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached Wafer’s home for help.
The shooting has drawn attention from civil-rights groups who called for a thorough investigation and believe race was a factor in the shooting — McBride was black; prosecutors said Wafer is white. Some have drawn comparisons between this case and that of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Florida boy shot in 2012 by a suspicious neighbor.
But Worthy insisted Friday that race wasn’t relevant in her decision to file charges and wouldn’t compare the case to Martin’s death.
What happened between when McBride crashed into a parked vehicle several blocks north of Wafer’s Dearborn Heights neighborhood and the shooting remains unclear.
Police received a 911 call from Wafer about 4:42 a.m., in which he tells the dispatcher: “I just shot somebody on my front porch with a shotgun, banging on my door.”
They found McBride’s body on the porch.
Evidence shows McBride knocked on the locked screen door, Worthy said, and there was no forced entry. The interior front door was open, and Wafer fired through “the closed and locked screen door,” Worthy said. “We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense,” she said.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must show his or her life was in danger.
Wafer was arraigned Friday on the murder and manslaughter charges as well as a felony weapons charge.
A toxicology report released Thursday showed McBride had a blood alcohol content of about 0.22 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving.
Her blood also tested positive for the active ingredient in marijuana.