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Michigan man charged with second-degree murder in Renisha McBride shooting

A homeowner is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Renisha McBride, an unarmed 19-year-old who was shot on a suburban Detroit porch.
A mourner holds an obituary displaying a picture of shooting victim Renisha McBride during her funeral service in Detroit
A mourner holds an obituary displaying a picture of shooting victim Renisha McBride during her funeral service in Detroit, Mich. in this file photo taken Nov. 8, 2013.

A homeowner is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Renisha McBride, an unarmed 19-year-old who was shot in the face with a shotgun on a suburban Detroit porch earlier this month.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Friday identified the man as Theodore Paul Wafer, a 54-year-old resident who told police he shot McBride in self-defense when she went to his porch seeking help after a car crash. He faces three charges, murder in the second degree, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during a felony. The second-degree murder charge could be punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison while the manslaughter charge would carry a 15-year sentence at maximum. 

"We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense," Worthy said at a press conference Friday morning. 

Wafer made his first appearance in court at his arraignment shortly after Worthy’s announcement. He pleaded not guilty. His bond was set at $250,000 and his preliminary examination is set for Dec. 18, according to NBC Station WDIV. 

According to the prosecutor, the evidence suggests that Wafer was inside of his home in Dearborn Heights, Mich., on Nov. 2 when he fired his shot at McBride. The bullet struck her in the face, Worthy said, noting that Wafer fired that shot through an "open door but a closed and locked screendoor."

"Our evidence shows that she had knocked on the locked screen door," she said, adding that there was no evidence of "forced entry to the home." 

Acknowledging that there has been significant interest in the case, Worthy said repeatedly that her office had not been swayed by that attention.

"We do not make our decisions in any case that we evaluate based on public opinion," she said. "We let the facts and evidence guide us, and the only thing that guides us and steers us are the facts and evidence. Nothing else." 

A toxicology report released Thursday indicated McBride had a blood alcohol level of nearly .22 -- twice the legal limit -- and marijuana in her system on the morning of Nov. 2, although further testing was suggested to confirm the marijuana. 

Worthy said the report did not weigh in on the charges against Wafer. “We don’t feel it is relevant to our charging decision at all in this case,” she said.  

Worthy said that witnesses who saw McBride after she was in a car accident in the hours before the shooting described her as "bloodied" and "confused" and that she left the scene on foot. 

Asked about recent comparisons to the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, Worthy said she has been "focused on the 40 other homicides we've had in this town since October first." 

The McBride family attory, Gerald Thurswell, praised the prosecutor's charging decision on Friday afternoon, and said he thinks the case is markedly different than the Trayvon Martin shooting, in part because there was no physical altercation beforehand. 

"The charges are correct, and we're pleased with the investigation the prosecutor's office has done here," he said. 

The McBride family attorney, Gerald Thurswell, told Rev. Sharpton on Tuesday that the family wanted a conviction and nothing less. 

“Just to charge this man is not sufficient,” he said. “They need a conviction in order to have justice. This was a senseless, senseless killing, there was no reason for this girl to die. None whatsoever.” 

McBride's father, Walter, called Wafer a "monster," on Friday after the charges were announced. "I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail," he said. 

Her mother, Monica, thanked the community for supporting her daughter and calling for justice, and thanked the prosecutor for getting "all the evidence and all the facts," before making her decision. 

Monica also questioned the idea that Wafer could have had any reason to fear her daughter that night, describing her daughter as a helpful person. 

"I can't imagine in my wildest dreams what that man feared from her to shoot her in her face," she said, questioning why he didn't choose to call the police. 

The homeowner's attorney Cheryl Carpenter, told Michigan Radio earlier this week that her client was "completely torn up" over the killing, but insisted his actions were justified.

“There was a lot of banging. It was a lot of noise, and it didn’t sound like just knocking,” Carpenter said, adding, “This is a tragedy for everybody involved, and the homeowner is completely torn up. He realizes another person’s life was taken. It was a young woman, and he is devastated by that fact." 

Wafer is expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon.