On Wednesday, opening arguments were made in the trial of Theodore Wafer, the 55-year-old Detroit man charged in the November 2013 killing of an unarmed, 19-year-old black teenager.
Renisha McBride was searching for help after being injured in a car accident when she stumbled upon Wafer’s Dearborn Heights, Mich. home. Wafer claimed he thought McBride was an intruder — McBride knocked on Wafer’s door at 4:30 a.m. He faces second-degree murder, manslaughter, and felony firearm charges for shooting the young woman in the face.
The trial began with assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark telling jurors during her opening statement that Wafer had other options that night in November.
“His actions that night were unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable,” she said. “Because of what he did that night, a 19-year-old girl is dead on a porch in Dearborn Heights.”
She said the prosecution isn’t saying that Wafer intended to kill McBride, but it’s their position that he knowingly created the situation where “death or great bodily harm was likely to occur.”
The defense, however, painted a different story, telling jurors Wafer’s actions were justified. Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, gave Wafer’s version of events that night, explaining why he never called 911 before the shooting.
He was sleeping in his recliner at about 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 2 when he heard a “Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!” on the side door of the house where he lived alone, she said. Then he heard “Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!” at the front door. Wafer doesn’t have a land line and got on the floor, crawling in fear, and started searching for his cell phone but couldn’t find it, Carpenter said. He turned off the TV so nobody would know he was home and turned off the hallway light, still crawling, she said.
“His heart is coming out of his chest.”
He looked through a peephole and saw a shadowy figure coming off the porch and going around the side of the house, she said. Wafer thought two or more people were at his house because of the banging on multiple doors, she said.
The banging continued and got louder and more aggressive, metal broke on his front door and Wafer thought “they’re coming to get me,” Carpenter said.
He went to get his shotgun, which he legally owned, then approached the front door because the sound had most recently come from the side door, she said.
The defense and prosecution disagree on whether the screen door was broken before Wafer shot. The defense says it was; and prosecutors say it happened when the defendant blasted his shotgun through it.
McBride’s use of alcohol and marijuana were also discussed during the first day of trial.
Amber Jenkins, a best friend of McBride’s who was with her the night she was killed, testified that they were drinking vodka and smoking blunts earlier in the evening. McBride’s mother, Monica, assured the jury that her daughter was a “social drinker” who would climb into bed with her when she was drunk, not rob a home.
The woman who witnessed McBride crash her car also testified. Carmen Beasley said McBride was bleeding and appeared drunk after the accident. Beasley said she unsuccessfully attempted to get McBride to stay and wait for an ambulance. Shortly after the crash, McBride ended up at Wafer’s front porch.
Moments later, she was dead.
The jury is made up of seven men and seven women, four of whom are African-Americans.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest in Wafer’s trial.
SOURCE: Freep, Twitter | PHOTO CREDIT: Handouts