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Trial begins in shooting death of Renisha McBride

By AP | Last updated: Jul 30, 2014 - 3:35:08 PM

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enisha McBride
DETROIT - A suburban Detroit man who killed an unarmed woman on his porch immediately suggested to police it was an accident and that he didn’t know his shotgun was loaded, according to recorded remarks played in court on July 24.

Theodore Wafer, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, met officers outside his Dearborn Heights home after they responded to his 911 call around 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 2.

“What happened here?” Sgt. Rory McManmon asked, according to the recording played by prosecutors.

“A consistent knocking on the door, and I’m trying to look through the windows and the door,” Mr. Wafer said. “It’s banging somewhere else so I open up the door, kind of like who is this? And the gun discharged.

“I didn’t know there was a round in there,” Mr. Wafer told Sgt. McManmon. “I don’t get it. Who’s knocking on your door at 4:30 in the morning? Bang, bang, bang - somebody wanting in.”

Mr. Wafer, 55, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride, who appeared on his porch 3 1/2 hours after crashing her car a half-mile away in Detroit.

He told police that the victim, later identified as 19-year-old McBride, looked like a “neighbor girl or something.” She didn’t live in the neighborhood. An autopsy revealed she was extremely drunk.

Theodore Wafer sits in court at his second-degree murder trial in Detroit on July 23. Wafer is accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Renisha McBride on the front-porch of his Dearborn Heights, Mich., home. Photo: AP/Wide World photos
Mr. Wafer’s lawyers say he shot McBride in self-defense. Prosecutors, however, say he should have called police if he feared for his safety.

On the second day of Mr. Wafer’s trial, jurors heard more testimony from witnesses who encountered Ms. McBride after her car crash. Officers who took photos and collected evidence also testified. Ms. McBride’s mother and other relatives left the courtroom to avoid seeing pictures of her body.

On cross-examination, Cpl. Tim Zawacki acknowledged that a portion of a front-door screen was leaning out of its frame. Mr. Wafer’s attorneys have pointed to the condition of the screen as evidence that Ms. McBride had damaged the house, but prosecutors blame any damage on the gunshot.

Cpl. Mark Parrinello said it was more than a week before he was told to go to Mr. Wafer’s home to dust doors for fingerprints.

“It was an inadequate, incomplete investigation,” defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter said.

On the recording played in court, police asked Mr. Wafer about his weapon, which was on the floor in his home when officers responded to the shooting.

“It’s a little Mossberg, you know, shotgun. Self-defense,” he replied.