Crime & Justice

Detroit-area man convicted of murder for shooting woman on his porch; Twitter reacts

In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo is the Dearborn Heights, Mich., home where 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot on Nov. 2  The homeowner, Theodore P. Wafer, 54, was charged Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 with second-degree murder in McBride's death. Police say the former high school cheerleader was shot in the face on Wafer's front porch a couple hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached the home for help.
In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo is the Dearborn Heights, Mich., home where 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot on Nov. 2 The homeowner, Theodore P. Wafer, 54, was charged Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 with second-degree murder in McBride's death. Police say the former high school cheerleader was shot in the face on Wafer's front porch a couple hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached the home for help.
Carlos Osorio/AP
In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo is the Dearborn Heights, Mich., home where 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot on Nov. 2  The homeowner, Theodore P. Wafer, 54, was charged Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 with second-degree murder in McBride's death. Police say the former high school cheerleader was shot in the face on Wafer's front porch a couple hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached the home for help.
Theodore Wafer waits for the start of his trial at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Detroit. Wafer is charged with murder in the shooting of a young unarmed woman on his porch.
Carlos Osorio/AP
In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo is the Dearborn Heights, Mich., home where 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot on Nov. 2  The homeowner, Theodore P. Wafer, 54, was charged Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 with second-degree murder in McBride's death. Police say the former high school cheerleader was shot in the face on Wafer's front porch a couple hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached the home for help.
Monica McBride, mother of Renisha McBride is seen during a news conference in Southfield, Mich., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Her daughter was shot on Nov. 2 in the face on Theodore P. Wafer's front porch in Dearborn Heights.
Carlos Osorio/AP
In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo is the Dearborn Heights, Mich., home where 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot on Nov. 2  The homeowner, Theodore P. Wafer, 54, was charged Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 with second-degree murder in McBride's death. Police say the former high school cheerleader was shot in the face on Wafer's front porch a couple hours after being involved in a nearby car accident. Family members say she likely approached the home for help.
Walter Ray Simmons, father of Renisha McBride, listens to testimony at Theodore Wafer's preliminary examination before District Court Judge David Turfe in Dearborn Heights, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Defense attorneys claim Wafer feared for his life, but prosecutors say the shooting of Renisha McBride, 19, was not justified.
Paul Sancya/AP


A jury convicted a suburban Detroit homeowner of second-degree murder and manslaughter Thursday in the killing of a drunk, unarmed woman on his porch last year, rejecting his claim that he was afraid for his life and had acted in self-defense.

Theodore Wafer, 55, shot Renisha McBride through a screen door on Nov. 2, hours after she crashed into a parked car a half-mile from his house. No one knows why she ended up at the Dearborn Heights home, although prosecutors speculated that the 19-year-old woman may have been seeking help.

The jury convicted Wafer of second-degree murder and manslaughter after deliberating for about eight hours over two days.

Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway warned that she would lock people up for any outbursts, and the courtroom was silent after the verdict was read.

McBride's mother, Monica McBride, cried and clasped her hands as if praying when the jury's decision was announced. She gave long hugs to prosecutors as the courtroom emptied.

Wafer, who had been free on bond, was ordered to jail to await his sentence. He faces up to life in prison on Aug. 21, but it's likely his punishment will be much shorter.

"He was a cold-blooded killer. ... People have a right to bear arms, but you need to do it with reason and responsibility," McBride's father, Walter Simmons, told reporters.

During closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor Patrick Muscat told the jury that McBride "just wanted to go home" the morning she was killed.

"She ended up in the morgue with bullets in her head and in her brain because the defendant picked up this shotgun, released this safety, raised it at her, pulled the trigger and blew her face off," Muscat said, holding the gun.

The Wayne County jury heard eight days of testimony before starting deliberations Wednesday.

Wafer, an airport maintenance employee who lives alone, said he was roused out of sleep around 4:30 a.m. by pounding at his front and side doors. He testified that the noises were "unbelievable."

"I wasn't going to cower in my house," Wafer said.

He said he thought there could have been more than one person outside of his 1,100-square-foot home near the Detroit-Dearborn Heights border. Wafer said he pulled the trigger "to defend myself. It was them or me."

"He armed himself. He was getting attacked," defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter told jurors. "Put yourselves in his shoes at 4:30 in the morning."

But prosecutors said Wafer could have stayed safely in his locked home and called 911 instead of confronting McBride.

"He had so many other options. ... We wouldn't be here if he had called police first," Muscat told the jury.

Social media reaction largely supported McBride and condemned Wafer, but mostly expressed sadness that the killing had happened. Supporters tweeted with hashtags #RenishaMcBride and #JusticeForRenishaMcBride.

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The Associated Press received criticism for how it framed the story on Twitter.

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