The man who shot and killed Renisha McBride, an unarmed 19-year-old who was seeking help after a car accident, will stand trial on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, a Michigan judge ordered Thursday after two days of testimony.
Judge David Turfe said Thursday that based on the evidence presented, Wafer made a poor decision in shooting McBride, and he failed to pursue other “reasonable opportunities to defend himself,” including calling the police for help.
“He chose to shoot rather than not answer the door,” the judge said.
Theodore Wafer was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and felony firearm, in the shooting death of McBride. Wafer has admitted he shot and killed McBride on his front porch after she was “banging” on the door of his Dearborn Heights, Mich., home in the early hours of Nov. 2.
McBride had been in an accident earlier that morning, crashing her car into a parked vehicle a short distance from the shooting. She had both alcohol and marijuana in her system according to the toxicology report. Defense attorneys argued Wafer’s actions were justified under Michigan’s 2006 Self-Defense Act. Wafer’s lawyers pointed to smudges on the screen door as a sign of aggression and suggested that McBride could have sustained a head injury during her car accident that could have caused such aggressive behavior.
A 21-year-old woman who witnessed the accident and spoke to McBride afterward testified Wednesday that McBride seemed confused and “in shock.” Another witness, Carmen Beasley, heard the car accident happen outside her home. She called 911 and spoke to McBride, later calling McBride’s behavior as “discombobulated.”
“She just kept saying she wanted to go home,” Beasley said.
Both witnesses said McBride held her head in her hands after the crash. They said McBride seemed neither belligerent nor testy when they spoke with her.
Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha testified Wednesday that it is possible that McBride could have been more aggressive after sustaining a head injury, but that the injuries she sustained when Wafer shot her in the face were too severe for him to determine whether or not she had prior brain damage from the car accident. “The injuries are so severe I couldn’t even reconstruct the brain,” Kesha said.
Det. Sgt. Stephen Gurka, called by the prosecution, testified that while the door was dislodged when he arrived on the scene, it was locked and he believed it was closed when Wafer fired his shot. The defense called firearms expert David Balash, who said during testimony that McBride was two feet away from Wafer when he fired his shot and that the screen door had been knocked from its frame before the shot was fired, supporting the defense’s theory that McBride’s aggressive behavior justified Wafer’s shot in self-defense.