Testifying in his own defense, Theodore Wafer told a Detroit jury that just before he opened fire with his shotgun and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride, he was fearfully thinking: “It was them or me.”
As he took the stand, facing charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter, Wafer said he awoke to the sound of banging on his front and then kitchen doors that was so violent it made the floor vibrate beneath his feet. He said he couldn’t find his cellphone to call 911‚ but he did get his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun from the closet.
However, he told the jury, he forgot it was loaded.
When a figure came from around the corner, Wafer, 55, said he pulled the trigger as a “reflex reaction” due to fear.
“I was not going to cower. I didn’t want to be a victim in my own house,” he said.
But Wafer also attempted to show a softer side, telling the jury he thinks of McBride every day.
“This poor girl, she had her whole life in front of her,” he said, wiping his eyes.
Prosecutors have tried to cast doubt on Wafer’s version of events by calling police witnesses who said they found no pry marks, kick marks or damage to the locking mechanisms of the front door. In addition, the Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Kilak Kesha testified that during the autopsy McBride had no injuries to her hand that could have been caused by violent pounding.
But Dr. Werner Spitz, an expert for the defense and former Wayne County medical examiner, claimed he did see injury, swelling and fresh blood in a photograph of McBride’s hand.
Wafer’s defense has been trying to show McBride as possibly dangerous by introducing to the jury information about her blood-alcohol level of 0.218, and the fact that she had smoked marijuana earlier in the evening.
According to witnesses, McBride wandered off disoriented and bloodied after she crashed her vehicle into a parked car just before 1 a.m. Three hours later she showed up on Wafer’s porch. No one knows what she was doing during those three hours.
Defense attorneys have been trying to admit cellphone “selfies” of McBride taken weeks before the incident, showing her “flashing hand signals and exhibiting ‘wannabe’ elements of gang culture,” with “piles of marijuana and packaging materials indicating marijuana distribution,” with wads of cash and pointing a handgun at the camera, according to court documents. But Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway has not allowed the photographs to be admitted.
During cross examination, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas implied that Wafer’s tears on the stand weren’t authentic by playing a lengthy video of his police interview made within hours of the shooting.
“Do you remember ever crying within two to three hours after you shot Renisha McBride?” she asked, according to CNN.
“No, I don’t think so,” Wafer said.
“You didn’t cry, right?” Siringas said. “There’s no jury there?”