A porch shooting suspect who gunned down a 19-year-old girl knocking at his door told jury members that it was “fear” that caused him to open fire on the teenage girl who showed up at his home last November. Michigan homeowner Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, shot and killed Renisha McBride in the early morning hours of Nov. 2.
Last year, we brought you this story:
Wafer is now under trial for second degree murder. The contentious white-on-black killing, murder charge and subsequent trial against McBride’s white killer has galvanized the nation in yet another racial debate, as noted in the video above.
McBride, a former high school cheerleader, was shot on Wafer’s front porch just hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. She appeared at McBride’s front screen and side doors. According to police testimony, she made no attempt to forcibly enter. An autopsy revealed McBride died of a gunshot wound to her face, meaning she was facing the homeowner and he could clearly see her. A toxicology report showed McBride had both alcohol and marijuana in her system.
Reports Reuters News Service via MSN News Aug. 4:
Taking the stand in his racially charged second-degree murder trial, Wafer said he ‘shot in fear’ when he saw a figure coming to his door. When asked by a prosecutor if he had shot on purpose, he said, ‘Yes,’ but added he did not take aim.
He also testified under cross-examination that he regretted not finding his phone and calling police before using his gun that night. Wafer wept during his testimony on Monday, saying he regretted killing the unarmed McBride but that the violent knocking on his front and side doors made him think someone was trying to break into his house.
Under Michigan gun owner laws, a person has the right to “stand their ground” as it were; they do not have to make a reasonable effort to flee into the safety of their home if they feel an intruder is threatening themselves or their family.
Did Wafer act in self-defense under an honest and reasonable belief of death or grave bodily harm? That is the crux of the trial. Wafer faces a life sentence if found guilty.
Wafer, who lived alone, told investigating authorities at the time of the shooting that it was a “reflex reaction” – a phrased seized on by prosecutors during Wafer’s trial.
“Shoot first and ask questions later, right?” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas asked.
Says Reuters: “Siringas later asked Wafer if his first reaction to seeing a young African-American female was to shoot but his defense attorney objected before he could respond.”
The porch shooting prompted protests in Dearborn Heights and across the nation. Many are drawing comparisons to the 2012 Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot to death by former neighborhood watch patroller George Zimmerman.