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Homeowner charged in deadly shooting of Renisha McBride

By Corey Williams Associated Press | Last updated: Nov 20, 2013 - 12:01:25 PM

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Obituary photo of 19 year old shooting victim Renisha McBride. Funeral services were held in Detroit, MI., on November 8, 2013.
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. - A suburban Detroit homeowner has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a 19-year-old woman who was shot in the face while on his front porch.

Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, also faces a manslaughter charge in the death of Renisha McBride, who was killed in the early-morning hours on Nov. 2, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

Police say Ms. McBride, a former high school cheerleader, was shot a couple hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached Mr. Wafer’s home for help.

The shooting has drawn attention from civil rights groups who called for a thorough investigation and believe race was a factor in the shooting—Ms. McBride was Black; prosecutors said Mr. Wafer is White. Some have drawn comparisons between this case and that of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Florida boy shot in 2012 by a suspicious neighbor.

But Ms. Worthy insisted Nov. 16 that race wasn’t relevant in her decision to file charges and wouldn’t compare the case to teenager Martin’s death.

“It’s always interesting to me what the public makes their decisions on when it comes to one way or another,” Ms. Worthy said. “In this case, the charging decision has nothing whatever to do with the race of the parties. Whether it becomes relevant later on in the case, I don’t know. I’m not clairvoyant,” she said.

What happened between when Ms. McBride crashed into a parked vehicle several blocks north of Mr. Wafer’s Dearborn Heights neighborhood and the shooting remains unclear.

Theodore P. Wafer, 54 Photo:
Police received a 911 call from Mr. Wafer about 4:42 a.m., in which he tells the dispatcher: “I just shot somebody on my front porch with a shotgun, banging on my door.”

They found Ms. McBride’s body on the porch.

Evidence shows Ms. McBride knocked on the locked screen door, Ms. Worthy said, and there was no forced entry. The interior front door was open, and Mr. Wafer fired through “the closed and locked screen door,” said Ms. Worthy, who declined to discuss details about the investigation.

“We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense,” she added.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must show that his or her life was in danger.

Mr. Wafer was arraigned Friday afternoon Nov. 16 on the murder and manslaughter charges as well as a felony weapons charge. A probable cause hearing was set for Dec. 18.

Ms. McBride’s mother, Monica McBride, wants just one question answered: What led to her daughter’s death?

“I can’t imagine what that man feared from her. I would like to know why,” she said during a news conference at a Southfield hotel an hour after Mr. Wafer was arraigned.

The 19-year-old’s father, Walter Ray Simmons, called Wafer a “monster.”

“I couldn’t accept no apology because my daughter don’t breathe no more,” Simmons said. “I believe this man took my daughter’s life for no reason. We just want justice done.”

Associated Press writer Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.