DETROIT — A suburban Detroit homeowner who shot a woman on his porch in the middle of the night was charged Friday with second-degree murder in connection with the case, Wayne County prosecutors said.
Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., also is facing charges of manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the attempted commission or commission of a felony in the death of Renisha McBride early Nov. 2, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
Wafer, who works in maintenance and transportation at Detroit Metro Airport, was arraigned at Friday in Dearborn Heights' 20th District Court, and his bond was set at $250,000. His next court date is Dec. 18.
Wafer is accused of fatally shooting McBride, 19, in the face at about 3:40 a.m. ET as she stood on his home's porch. He told police he thought someone was breaking in and accidentally fired his 12-gauge shotgun.
The woman's relatives say she was seeking help.
Wafer's lawyer, Matt Carpenter, said his "client has a very strong defense." He also said Wafer has no history of substance abuse but does have a couple of drunk-driving arrests from 20 years ago.
Worthy said authorities saw no evidence of forced entry on Wafer's home. McBride allegedly was shot after knocking on the locked front screen door.
Evidence suggests that Wafer opened the front door before he fired through the closed and locked screen door, she said.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, someone who claims lawful self-defense must have an honest and reasonable belief of eminent death or great bodily harm for themselves or another person, she said.
“We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense.”
— Kym Worthy, Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor
"We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense," Worthy said of Wafer.
Civil rights leaders have called for a thorough investigation of the case, contending that McBride, who was black, was a victim of racial profiling.
In charging Wafer, who is white, authorities had not mentioned his race, but Worthy said race did not play a role in the decision to seek charges.
"We make our decisions based on the facts and the evidence," she said.
McBride had been involved in traffic accident more than two hours before she was shot, according to Detroit police. Just before 1 a.m. Nov. 2, a witness called 911 to say a woman was speeding down a street, hit a parked vehicle, got out of her car and left.
She later returned to the scene but left again before police arrived, according to a second 911 call. It is unclear where McBride was for the two hours after she left accident scene.
The porch on which she was shot was about six blocks from the scene and about a block over the city boundary into suburban Dearborn Heights.
On Thursday, a medical examiner's report noted that McBride's blood-alcohol content was 0.218%, nearly three times the 0.08% legal limit for adult drivers in Michigan. The limit for drivers younger than 21 is 0.02%.
"All I know is that she was 19 years old, she was on a porch and she'd be alive today if he'd called 9-1-1," lawyer Gerald Thurswell, who represents McBride's family, said Thursday. He was planning news conference Friday.