54-Year-Old White Homeowner Charged with Murder After Shooting Dead Black Girl, 19, Who Knocked on His Door Asking for Help After Crash
Will Payne, Daily Mail (London), November 15, 2013
This is the man who killed Renisha McBride–revealed for the first time after charges of murder in the second degree, manslaughter and possession of a firearm during a felony were brought against him today.
Theodore Wafer, 54, blasted Ms McBride in the head with a shotgun after she knocked on his door in the predominantly white area of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, following a car crash.
MailOnline can show his picture for the first time, after he was officially named today by prosecutors.
Speaking at a press conference today Prosecutor Kym Worthy said: ‘We have issued these charges because we believe the evidence will show that self defense was not warranted.
‘Under Michigan law, there is no duty to retreat into your own home, however, someone who claims self defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm, and that use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm.’
Worthy said race was in no way an issue in the decision to press charges after the case was compared to that of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman.
The prosecutor added that any alcohol Ms McBride had consumed on the night was irrelevant to the case after it was revealed Ms McBride was twice the legal limit and had traces of marijuana in her system.
Worthy added: ’13 days ago 19 year old Renisha McBride was involved in a car accident. At the scene witnesses reported that she was bloodied, disorientated and appeared to be confused.
‘She left the scene on foot, hours later her lifeless body was found by the police, near the porch of a Dearborn Heights house.
‘She was found with a very large gunshot wound to her face. It is alleged she was shot to death by the home owner after she knocked on his locked front screen door.
‘By all reports she was unarmed and there were no signs of forced entry at the property.’
Worthy said Wafer was licensed to own the gun.
If found guilty of second degree murder, Wafer could be sentenced to life in prison. Manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 15 years and Felony Firearm a two year mandatory served consecutively.
Wafer is not currently in custody, but will turn himself in for arraignment at Dearborn Heights police station at some point this afternoon.
Today’s three charges follow two weeks of protests in the Detroit area, with friends and family of the tragic 19-year-old victim furious Wager was free to walk the streets.
Police requested a warrant from Wayne County Prosecutors last week, but it was a denied with officials saying they needed more evidence to be collected first.
According to toxicology results the tragic Detroit-born 19-year-old’s blood alcohol level was .218. Under Michigan law anyone with a level 0.10 is considered legally drunk.
The report, released by Wayne County Medical Office also noted that signs of marijuana were found in her system. Officials have recommended a retest to confirm this.
After the crash on the outskirts of Detroit, some witnesses said she appeared drunk, while others said she was just concussed from the impact. One neighbor, who lived just opposite the accident said he could not tell if she was under the influence, but revealed she seemed incredibly confused and walked to and from her car, getting in and out three times, before eventually leaving the scene with her hood pulled over her head.
Around two-and-a-half-hours later she knocked on the door of a house in near-by Dearborn Park and Wafer blasted her in the face with a shot gun.
Witnesses to Ms McBride’s crash–in the early hours of November 2–said she had been speeding at the time she hit a parked car and a tree on a quiet residential street. One of her relatives previously revealed she had been in at least two other car crashes in the past.
But witness LeDell Hammond, who was one of the last people to see Ms McBride alive, says he could not tell if she was drunk. He also told how guilty he felt that he didn’t do more to stop her when she walked off into the night from the crash scene.
Speaking to MailOnline, the father-of-one said: ‘I got back from work a couple of moments after the crash and the girl had walked off. But then she came back and got in her car, before getting back out and walking off again. She did that another two times and it was clear she was very confused and didn’t really know what was going on.
‘If I’m being honest I couldn’t tell if she was intoxicated, it seemed to me she was probably just really confused and really scared. She was only 19 and she was probably terrified about getting in trouble.
‘The people on the other side of the street were trying to get her to stay, but she just kept really quiet. She walked right past me and I noticed a bit of blood and that her boots were all torn up. She was wearing some kind of jacket and she had her hood pulled up over her head.
‘That was the last I saw of her as she got onto the main road and turned round the corner. I thought about trying to stop her, but I was there with two of my friends and I thought she might be intimidated.
‘If only I’d known what was going to happen to her, I would have grabbed her and made her stay. I have thought about it a lot since that night, but there was no way I could have known she was going to end up dead.
‘It’s a terrible tragedy, she just knocked on the wrong door. I was one of the last people to see her alive, which is a crazy thing to think about. I have thought about the fact she had her hood up and maybe the guy thought she looked intimidating, but I could easily tell she was a girl.’
Yesterday we told how an ex-girlfriend of Wafer’s dismissed the idea he was a racist. But the woman did say the killer was a heavy drinker with a bad temper. In fact their relationship ended so sourly they actually wound up in court, fighting a stalking case.
The woman who does not want to be named, met the suspect while working in a factory in Detroit in the mid-nineties.
Speaking exclusively to the MailOnline, she said: ‘We went out for a few months, but we had some major problems because he really liked to drink. I was no angel, but I thought he drank far too much and It was a problem for him.
‘We split up because of his drinking and one evening he came over to try to reconcile, but we ended up having a physical fight. It was just pushing and shoving and the police weren’t called, but it was pretty unpleasant and left me with bruises on my arms. I saw a very nasty side to him.
‘Because we worked together, it was very difficult and we actually went to court to get things sorted officially. There were accusations flying around on both sides.
‘I haven’t seen him since. Despite all of that and how much of a jerk he was to me, I was still stunned when I heard he had been caught up in the shooting.
‘He was very cocky and confident and could be argumentative, but he wasn’t ever some kind of gun nut and he wasn’t really violent. I find it hard to believe he did this on purpose.’
People have suggested the killing, which happened in the predominately white area of Dearborn Park, was racially motivated and likened it to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer while walking home.
At this stage there is no suggestion Wafer held racist views. And his ex-partner said she was never given any reason to think he was prejudiced in that way. She said: ‘He wasn’t an angel, but I would never have considered him to be a racist. He didn’t ever do anything in front of me that suggested he had those kinds of views.’
Ms McBride’s tragic death happened after she crashed her car about half a mile away from the unnamed man’s house soon before 1am.
She was not shot until around 4am and it is not known what she had been doing for around two-and-a-half hours before her death.
On Tuesday audio footage from a police dispatcher was obtained by The Detroit News, giving a glimpse into what happened that night.
At 4.46am the female dispatcher says: ‘Just received a 911 call from a male (who) thinks he just shot someone on his porch. Then he hung up; we’re trying to call back.’
About a minute later, the dispatcher radioed: ‘Units responding: We have the male on the line. (He) states he doesn’t know this person. Trying to get further (information).’
A responding officer told the dispatcher: ‘There’s somebody down on the porch … it appears it’s going to be a black female.’
Immediately after Ms McBride’s death Wafer apparently claimed he pulled the trigger by accident, but in recent days his lawyer has said he was in fear for his life–despite his size.
‘There was a lot of banging. It was a lot of noise, and it didn’t sound like just knocking,’ attorney Cheryl Carpenter told Michigan Radio in an interview released on Monday.
‘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,’ she said.
Friends described Ms McBride as an outgoing girl who loved cars and shopping. She had graduated from Southfield High School, where she was in the cheer squad, in 2012. Ms McBride had recently begun a job working for the Ford Motor Company.
According to the Detroit News, the family had to have a closed casket due to the terrible injuries she sustained.
‘We couldn’t get a chance to look at her for the last time,’ said Krystal Byrd, who said she was McBride’s cousin. ‘We need justice.’