[UPDATE: January 16. 2014 – Ted Wafer entered a plea of not guilty on January 15, and a trial is scheduled to begin June 2nd]
A man charged in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha Mcbride last month after she banged on his door will face trial on charges of second-degree murder after two days of testimony before Judge David Turfe to decide whether the case should go to trial.
Mcbride, a 5′ 4″, 2012 Southfield High School graduate, had wrecked her car in the early morning hours of November 2nd. Toxicology reports show she had a blood alcohol content of 0.218%, more than twice the legal limit, and a trace amount of marijuana in her body.
Mcbride walked up to the home of Theodore Wafer, 46, in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Wafer fired through his door, and reportedly claimed he thought it was a burglar and that his shotgun discharged by accident. He has been free on bond since he was charged with second-degree murder manslaughter, and felony firearm on November 15th. The families of both Wafer and Mcbride attended the hearing.
A medical examiner, a crime scene reconstruction expert, a police detective, firearms expert, witnesses to the car accident, and friends of Mcbride were called to testify during the hearing. The defense appeared to try and sway blame for the incident to Mcbride, using her state of mind that night to display aggressive behavior that would justify Wafer’s actions.
Evidence included the 12-gauge shotgun used to kill Mcbride on his porch, the screen door through which the fatal shot was fired, an NRA pamphlet, shotgun shells, and photos of Mcbride’s damaged car showing airbags deployed as well as a cracked windshield.
The screen door had smudges allegedly caused by Mcbride.The windshield appeared to have a web pattern as though hit from a center point that spread out. Det. Sgt. Stephen Gurka said it’s possible her head hit the windshield.
Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha testified that a person could be incoherent, confused or more aggressive due to any brain damage.
He said they have not been able to establish whether Mcbride had any head injuries from the car accident that could have affected her state of mind, since the gunshot wound to her head caused damage that eliminated any brain damage determination. He said that there was no exit wound.
David Balash, a firearms expert, said the fatal shot was fired from close range, and it may have been from as close as two feet away.
A witness, Carmen Beasly, who called 911 after hearing “a loud boom” outside her house, testified that she went outside and saw McBride holding her head and staggering as she walked away from a 2004 Ford Focus that had crashed into Beasly’s husband’s car.
She said Mcbride came back 5 or 10 minutes later. She said she talked to Mcbride, who had blood on her hands, possibly from her arm, but that Mcbride didn’t know where she was.
Beasly asked if she was OK, and Mcbride said yes, then searched for her cell phone but couldn’t find it. Beasly described Mcbride as “discombobulated” and heard Mcbride say more than once that “I just want to go home”, but that the young lady walked away again as Beasly was calling 911 a second time. Beasly and another witness testified that Mcbride was never hostile.
No one knows Mcbride’s whereabouts from 1:30 a.m. until about 4:42 a.m. that morning, when Wafer called police to say he had shot someone.
A friend who was with Mcbride earlier in the night said she had left Mcbride’s home after they drank half a bottle of vodka and got into an argument. Another friend said she was supposed to pick him up from work, and they had spoken by phone, but that Mcbride’s voice was slurred, as if she was drunk.
He said he wondered if someone had slipped something into a drink she may have had. Both friends testified that Mcbride’s actions that fateful night were uncharacteristic.
In ordering the case held over for trial, Judge Turfe said Wafer could have avoided the confrontation. “He could have not answered the door. He could have called for help. He chose to shoot rather than not answer the door,” Judge Turfe said. He said the defendant made a bad choice when there were other reasonable opportunities.
Based on testimony and reasoning, Judge Turfe said that he believes the prosecutors met the burden of proof showing probable cause to go to trial on charges that Wafer committed the crimes of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The trial date is set for June 2, 2014.
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