Theodore Wafer, the Dearborn Heights homeowner who fatally shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch last November, was convicted of second-degree murder, manslaughter and using a firearm in the commission of a felony by a Wayne County jury of four African-Americans and eight whites.
The verdict came during the second day of deliberations. Wafer, 55, who had been free on bond, was ordered to jail immediately and could face life imprisonment. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 21.
Wafer stared straight ahead showed no emotion when the verdict ws announced.
Monica McBride, the victim’s mother hugged prosecutors Athina Siringas, Pat Muscat and Terry Anderson after the verdict was announced.
“I kept the faith,” said Monica McBride Thursday following the verdict.
Walter Simmons, the victim’s father called Wafer “ a cold-blooded killer” and said he hopes he is sentenced to life imprisonment.
Cheryl Carpenter, Wafer’s defense attorney had no comment on the verdict.
During his 11-day trial, prosecutors characterized Wafer as an angry and paranoid man who kept a loaded Mossberg 500 shotgun at his home after he suspected neighborhood kids were responsible for vandalizing his vehicle with paint balls.
“He wanted a confrontation,” said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Pat Muscat during closing arguments Wednesday. “He wanted the neighborhood kids to leave him alone. He had had enough of the paint balls.”
McBride, prosecutors said, “had the misfortune” of showing up on his porch looking for help more than three hours after a single-car crash a mile away from his home. Wafer was primed for a confrontation because of the vandalism to his vehicle and thought the pranksters were back.
Wafer, in his testimony, told prosecutors that he went to the door and opened and fired through the screen door striking a person he says jumped from the side into his view. He called 911 at 4:42 a.m. Nov. 2 to report the shooting.
“He raised the gun and he shot and he killed Renisha McBride,” Muscat told jurors. “She’s not here to tell you what happened that night because of his actions. He shot her through a locked door.”
Wafer testified that he feared for his life after hearing banging on his side and front doors.
He said the incident happened “too fast … too fast.”He said he pulled the trigger “to protect myself, to save myself. It was them or me.”
Witnesses on the street where the victim crashed her car said she was bloody, dazed and disoriented when she left the scene going west on Warren Avenue in the general direction of Wafer’s neighborhood following the crash around 1 a.m. Nov. 2.
The teen’s family says she probably picked Wafer’s home because it looked like her family’s Detroit home. They said she was looking for help. She also was drunk and had marijuana in her system, according to a toxicology report from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Prosecutors say McBride was not a threat to Wafer and that she had not attempted to get into his home. They say his declaration of self-defense didn’t hold up.
“There was no evidence of fear ….no evidence that he was going to get hurt …no evidence anyone was in his home,” said Muscat.
During closing arguments, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas told jurors Wednesday that Wafer gave conflicting accounts about the shooting of McBride to a 911 operator, and police. She said he told the emergency dispatcher that the shooting was an accident but later said told authorities he acted in self-defense.
Police who investigated the shooting said they found no evidence of anyone trying to break into Wafer’s home nor did they find any weapons on or near McBride’s body.
Taking the stand in his own defense Monday, Wafer cried as he talked about fatal shooting. Monday, Wafer testified about taking the life of McBride, a Detroit resident.
When Wafer’s co-counsel, Cheryl Carpenter, asked him if he thought often about the shooting, he said he thinks about McBride every day.
“So devastating,” he testified. “This poor girl. She had her whole life in front of her. I took that from her,” Wafer said, crying and holding his hands together.
In her closing remarks, Carpenter said Wafer was consumed with fear that November morning.
“(McBride) was coming from the side at Mr. Wafer,” said Carpener Wednesday. “Mr. Wafer was terrorized in his own home. There’s pounding and pounding (on the doors). It’s reasonable that you are in fear for your life.”
Carpenter added that Wafer’s neighborhood was “changing” and there were some incidents in the neighborhood that had him worried about crime.
Prosecutors said in closing remarks that Wafer had tried to manipulate the facts of the case all along.
Wafer admitted Tuesday he did not tell Dearborn Heights Police everything that had taken place at his home before he shot McBride around 4:40 a.m. his home on West Outer Drive when he was taken to the police station.
Wafer said everything was happening in a “split second,” and police did not ask him some of some details about what happened at his home the morning he shot McBride to death.
Referring to the noise that brought him to his front door Wafer testified: “There was no knocking … that was a pounding.”
He said the incident happened “too fast … too fast.”
Later, he said he pulled the trigger “to protect myself, to save myself. It was them or me.”
Asked why he opened the door and fired, Wafer answered, “I thought they were going to come through … I didn’t want to cower. I didn’t want to be a victim in my own house.”
He said told police at the police station that the shooting was “self-defense as far as I’m concerned” but also told police, “I should have called you guys first.”