The man who shot and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride will face a new judge when his case goes to trial this summer. Theodore Wafer has admitted to shooting McBride in the face in the early hours of Nov. 2, 2013, but has insisted he believed she was trying to break into his home.
Wayne County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Timothy Kenny recused Judge Qiana Lillard from the case Friday morning, noting a prosecutor handling the case had been involved in her campaign committee and had sold tickets to a fundraiser on her behalf.
“The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office will not appeal the ruling of Judge Kenny. We will request that the case be blind drawn to another judge,” Wayne County assistant prosecutor Maria Miller said in a statement.
Wafer’s defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter urged Lillard to recuse herself from the case earlier this month, arguing her relationship with members of Kym Worthy’s prosecutors office could create the appearance of impropriety. Lillard refused to recuse herself, arguing that ”the record must show actual bias or prejudice.”
Wafer has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for shooting McBride in the face on the porch of his Dearborn Heights, Mich., home. Although Wafer has argued he feared for his life, prosecutors have argued he should have kept his door shut and called the police, rather than opening his front door to shoot her through a screen door.
McBride had been in a car accident about a half-mile away from Wafer’s home a few hours before the shooting, and a toxicology report found she had alcohol and marijuana in her system.
A new judge is expected to be named within the next week, according to the Detroit Free-Press, clearing the way for other pre-trial motions to be addressed. Wafer’s attorneys plan to urge the new judge to allow details about McBride’s “lifestyle,” including photos from her cell phone that show her with alcohol and marijuana, to be entered into evidence.
McBride’s aunt, Bernita Spinks, told NBC station WDIV earlier this month that including the evidence from the teen’s phone would put her niece on trial, instead of her killer.
“If they’re going to try to make her as the suspect, she was not the suspect,” Spinks said. “She shouldn’t have been killed, and if she was a drug dealer it’s police’s job to arrest her, not for Ted Wafer to kill her.”