Detroit-area man gets 17 years in porch shooting

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Detroit-area man gets 17 years in porch shooting
Theodore Wafer appears at his preliminary examination before District Court Judge David Turfe in Dearborn Heights, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. The hearing will determine if there's enough evidence to send Wafer to trial on a second-degree murder charge. Defense attorneys claim he feared for his life, but prosecutors say the shooting of Renisha McBride, 19, was not justified.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo Theodore Wafer, left, a Detroit-area man who fatally shot an unarmed woman on his porch, listens to his attorneys during court in Dearborn Heights, Mich. On Friday, June 13, 2014, five weeks before trial, a judge hears arguments about evidence in Wafer's case. Wafer's lawyer wants to show jurors crime trends in the neighborhood and introduce photos of the victim with alcohol, drugs and a gun to show her lifestyle. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Theodore Wafer waits for the start of his trial at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Detroit. Wafer is charged with murder in the shooting of a young unarmed woman on his porch. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, appears at his arraignment in 20th District Court in Deaborn Heights, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Wafer faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Theodore Wafer waits for his preliminary examination to begin before District Court Judge David Turfe in Dearborn Heights, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. The hearing will determine if there's enough evidence to send Wafer to trial on a second-degree murder charge. Defense attorneys claim he feared for his life, but prosecutors say the shooting of Renisha McBride, 19, was not justified.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, appears at his arraignment in 20th District Court in Deaborn Heights, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Wafer faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Monica McBride, mother of Renisha McBride is seen during a news conference in Southfield, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Her daughter was shot on Nov. 2 in the face on Theodore P. Wafer's front porch in Dearborn Heights. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announces second-degree murder charges against Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, during a news conference in Detroit Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Wafer also faces a manslaughter charge in the death of Renisha McBride in the early-morning hours of Nov. 2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Theodore Wafer appears at his preliminary examination before District Court Judge David Turfe in Dearborn Heights, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. The hearing will determine if there's enough evidence to send Wafer to trial on a second-degree murder charge. Defense attorneys claim he feared for his life, but prosecutors say the shooting of Renisha McBride, 19, was not justified.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, appears at his arraignment in 20th District Court in Deaborn Heights, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Wafer faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Judge Mark J. Plawecki listens to attorneys at the arraignment of Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, in 20th District Court in Deaborn Heights, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Wafer faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Bernita Spinks, aunt of slaying victim Renisha McBride, speaks to reporters outside the Wayne County Circuit Court building in Detroit, on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, after a jury found Theodore Wafer guilty of second-degree murder in the shotgun death of McBride, 19. Wafer shot McBride on Nov. 2, 2013, his porch in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn Heights after she banged on his door in the middle of the night. Spings said the killing showed the danger of the thoughtless use of firearms and didn’t reflect any racial motive by the white homeowner. Spinks said people need to use “the right judgment” if they are going to have guns in their homes. (AP Photo/David N. Goodman)
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By ED WHITE

DETROIT (AP) - A suburban Detroit man was sentenced Wednesday to at least 17 years in prison for killing an unarmed woman who appeared on his porch before dawn.

Theodore Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder in the Nov. 2 death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Before he was sentenced, the Dearborn Heights man apologized to McBride's family, saying he killed a woman who was "too young to leave this world."

"I will carry that guilt and sorrow forever," said Wafer, often pausing to control his emotions.

Wafer was convicted last month after a nine-day trial that centered on whether the 55-year-old had a reasonable and honest belief that he was in peril. He testified that he was awakened by pounding on his doors and shot McBride because he feared for his life. A jury rejected his claim of self-defense.

Prosecutors recommended at least 17 years in prison for Wafer, the low end of the guidelines, including two years for unlawful use of a gun. Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter asked for as few as six years in prison.

Noting Wafer's age, Carpenter told Judge Dana Hathaway that anything more than 10 years in prison would be a "life sentence." The judge declined to go below the guidelines.

No one knows why McBride ended up at Wafer's home about 4:30 a.m., though prosecutors speculated she may have been seeking help. She had crashed her car into a parked car about a half-mile away in Detroit around 1 a.m. An autopsy found she was extremely drunk.

Wafer opened the front door and shot McBride in the face, firing through a screen door. He first suggested to police that it was an accident but later admitted to intentionally pulling the trigger.

The judge said McBride had made "some terrible choices" but that she didn't deserve to be killed.

Hathaway described the case as "one life gone and one life ruined."

The jury convicted Wafer of murder, manslaughter and a gun-related charge on Aug. 7. His maximum sentence is 32 years in prison, although he'll be eligible for parole after serving the minimum of 17.

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


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