Theodore Wafer is claiming self-defense in the death last year of Renisha McBride, 19, in Dearborn Heights. But prosecutors have charged the 55-year-old with second-degree murder, saying there was no reason to use deadly force.
Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter repeatedly told jurors that they need to put themselves in Wafer's shoes. Raising and lowering her voice for dramatic effect, she portrayed him as a man under siege in his own home around 4:30 a.m. Nov. 2.
Wafer and McBride didn't know each other. She ended up on his porch 3 ½ hours after crashing her car into a parked car about a half-mile away in Detroit. An autopsy found her blood-alcohol level was about 0.22, which is nearly three times above Michigan's legal limit for driving.
Asleep in his recliner, Wafer heard pounding at a side door, Carpenter said. He dropped to the floor, couldn't find his cellphone and then heard more pounding at the front door, she said.
"His heart is coming out of his chest. ... There's a shadowy figure coming off the porch and going to the side of the house. He thinks it's not one person — it's two or more people," Carpenter told the jury.
The banging continued, she said, so Wafer eventually loaded his shotgun, opened the front door and fired, hitting McBride in the face.
Carpenter said a defense expert will testify that Wafer's screen door was badly damaged by McBride before he shot through it.
Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark said Wafer had other choices. She displayed a cheerful picture of the victim on a screen, followed by a photo of McBride dead on the blood-stained porch.
"His actions that night were unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable," Hagaman-Clark told the jury.
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