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Detroit-area porch shooter convicted of murder



By ED WHITE

DETROIT (AP) - A suburban Detroit man who insisted he killed an unarmed woman on his porch in self-defense was convicted of second-degree murder Thursday after the jury rejected his tearful claim that he fired through a screen door in the wee hours because he feared his life was at risk.

No one knows why Renisha McBride ended up at the Dearborn Heights home of Theodore Wafer last Nov. 2, although prosecutors speculated that the 19-year-old woman may have been confused and seeking help, hours after she had crashed her car blocks away. An autopsy found she was extremely drunk.

The jury convicted Wafer of second-degree murder, manslaughter and a gun-related charge after deliberating for about eight hours over two days.

Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway warned that she would lock people up for any outbursts, and the courtroom was silent after the verdict was read.

McBride's mother, Monica McBride, cried and clasped her hands as if praying. She gave long hugs to prosecutors as the courtroom emptied.

Wafer, 55, who had been free on bond, was ordered to jail to await his Aug. 25 sentencing, despite vigorous objections from his attorney, Cheryl Carpenter. He faces up to life in prison, but it's likely his punishment will be shorter.

"We learned he was a cold-blooded killer," McBride's father, Walter Simmons, told reporters.

"People have a right to bear their arms and everything else, but you have to do it with reason and responsibility," Simmons said. "Not just murder somebody when it's not justified."

Jurors declined to comment after the verdict, and Carpenter couldn't immediately be reached for reaction.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Patrick Muscat said McBride "just wanted to go home" the morning she was killed.

"She ended up in the morgue with bullets in her head and in her brain because the defendant picked up this shotgun, released this safety, raised it at her, pulled the trigger and blew her face off," Muscat told jurors, holding the gun.

Wafer, an airport maintenance employee who lives alone, said he was roused out of sleep around 4:30 a.m. by pounding at his front and side doors. He testified that the noises were "unbelievable."

"I wasn't going to cower in my house," Wafer testified.

He said he thought there could have been more than one person outside his 1,100-square-foot home near the Detroit-Dearborn Heights border. Wafer said he pulled the trigger "to defend myself. It was them or me."

"He armed himself. He was getting attacked," Carpenter told jurors. "Put yourselves in his shoes at 4:30 in the morning."

Several trial witnesses called by prosecutors described their encounter with McBride after she crashed her car around 1 a.m., a half-mile away in a Detroit neighborhood. They suspected she had been drinking, but she walked away before an ambulance arrived to treat a likely head injury.

Witnesses said she talked about just wanting to go home - a key point repeatedly emphasized by prosecutors as they tried to counter the defense team's portrayal of McBride as a violent woman.

Muscat said Wafer could have stayed safely in his locked home and called 911 instead of confronting McBride.

"He had so many other options. ... We wouldn't be here if he had called police first," the prosecutor told the jury.

Wafer is white and McBride was black, and some wondered in the aftermath of the shooting whether race may have been a factor, likening it to the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. But the race angle was hardly mentioned at the trial.

"It's about people with guns who don't use the right judgment before they pick them up," McBride's aunt, Bernita Spinks, said outside the courthouse.

___

David Goodman contributed to this report.

___

Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

Join the discussion

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terryhoagland123 August 07 2014 at 4:00 PM

If she had stayed at home like she should instead of getting drunk it wouldn't have happened and if she had called 911 instead of nearly knocking this mans door down at 4:30 AM she would be alive today!

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47 replies
coopski1 August 07 2014 at 4:02 PM

This is disgusting. His lawyer should have petitioned to have the trial moved to an area where the jury pool isn't so irretrievably skewed in favor of the criminal. Only people who have never worked hard to pay their own way in life, buy a home, pay their bills could see what this man did as "murder". This jury pool comes from a population that likely uses scratch-off tickets as their primary financial planning tool.

Flag Reply +95 rate up
41 replies
howudoin3006 August 07 2014 at 3:53 PM

Only in Leftwing Liberal American, where only the criminals have rights. The man was defending his home, and family, as well he should have, yet he gets prison time. How long is this type of crap going to happen,before you stand up and say I've had enough?

Flag Reply +94 rate up
48 replies
loretta vanbergen August 07 2014 at 4:02 PM

I agree with the verdict

Flag Reply +79 rate up
17 replies
partsautomall August 07 2014 at 4:06 PM

somebody drunk at your door at 4:30 in morning.does this verdict make sense to anybody?

Flag Reply +72 rate up
40 replies
jorsini21 August 07 2014 at 4:15 PM

NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUST COME ONTO YOUR PROPERTY ESPECIALLY AT THAT TIME OF NIGHT AND CAUSE A RAUCOUS. WHETHER SHE WAS UNARMED OR NOT, SHE IS THE ONE WHO PUT HERSELF IN THAT SITUATION NOT THE MAN ASLEEP IN HIS HOME. IM DISGUSTED WITH HOW THIS COUNTRY TREATS US AND WE OWN NO PROPERTY IN THE US. ITS ALL FAKE TITELS AND DEEDS ACCORDING THE THE COURTS WITH THE WAY THEY MAKE RULINGS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. ATLEAST IN FLORIDA THERES A 50/50 CHANCE OF BEING PROTECTED BY THE LAW IF YOU STAND YOUR GROUND IN YOUR HOME.

Flag Reply +71 rate up
15 replies
rxpharmd August 07 2014 at 4:30 PM

But the POLICE can kick down the wrong door, shoot an innocent person sitting inside and get a few days paid leave then back on the beat. Gotta love it when your life is in the hands of twelve people too dumb to get off jury duty. Or better yet, try to get picked because they have nothing else to do with their time.

Flag Reply +64 rate up
6 replies
beasmommom August 07 2014 at 4:18 PM

Yeah, this guy is guilty for being afraid of a drunken someone knocking at his door in the wee hours of the morning in Detroit-but Oscar Pistorius will probably get off.

Flag Reply +51 rate up
5 replies
annette.testa August 08 2014 at 2:41 PM

This man should have called the police and stayed inside his house. If the woman found a way to break into the house, then he might have been justified in shooting her, but you don't shoot someone just for causing a ruckus on your porch! He was angry! He was not thinking rationally! Of course the woman was not thinking at all - and you can't reason with a drunk person - but this man let his anger and self-righteousness fool him into thinking this person's life was of no value. Killing is a last resort, not a first response.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
plybon72 annette.testa August 08 2014 at 2:57 PM

"Killing is a last resort, not a first response."

We said words of wisdom.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
larryraybin August 08 2014 at 2:45 PM

jorsini21, you are totally wrong, if someone comes onto your property you believe you have the right to shoot them? Your totally f..'n nuts!
You have the right to tell them to leave and if they don't then you call the authorities. He did'nt have to open the door or even get out of bed, if he felt so threatened his first reaction should have been to call the police and tell them that someone is trying to break into this home. Then he should have gotten his weapon and positioned him self in a safe place ready to protect himself. What is this, the 1800's , the wild west.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
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