Michigan Supreme Court looking into Heights porch shooting case

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — The Michigan State Supreme Court will be taking a look at the murder case of Theodore Wafer who shot and killed Renisha McBride on his front porch in 2013.

Their interest comes after Wafer wanted a jury instruction telling the jurors that when McBride knocked on his front door he feared that she was attempting to break into his house.

His reasoning for shooting McBride as self-defense because he believed he was facing great bodily harm was given to jurors, but not on breaking and entering.

“Mr. Wafer is entitled to a new trial as the general self-defense instruction did not adequately present his theory of defense, and it did not given him the full protection that the Legislature intended for a homeowner,” Wafer’s defense attorney Jacqueline McCann wrote in the court filing.

The Court said it will be hearing arguments on the claim that the instruction violated Wafer’s rights and if an appeal will be granted. No hearing date has been set.

“The trial court held that Mr. Wafer was not entitled to the instruction because it found that there was no evidence that Ms. McBride had entered his home or was actively breaking in when he shot her,” the court order read.

About 4:30 a.m. Nov. 2, McBride crashed her vehicle in Detroit and reportedly was searching for help when she went to Wafer’s house, knocking on his front door in the 16800 block of Outer Drive.

Wafer shot her in the face through his screen door, even through she was not armed or had no burglary tools at the time.

She did have marijuana and alcohol in her system at the time of the incident with a blood alcohol level of 0.218, almost three times the legal limit in Michigan of 0.08.

During the trial in 2014, Wafer said he shot McBride in self-defense because he thought she was trying to break into his house.

Wafer was found guilty in October 2014 of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and felony firearm and sentenced to between 17 and 32 years in prison which he is serving at the Michigan Department of Corrections Alger Correctional Facility in Munising.

During the trial, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Hathaway sentenced Wafer to the minimum years in prison for the charges because she “could not go below the sentencing guidelines” at the time.

Since then, the state’s sentencing rules have changed from the 2014 sentencing of Wafer and the guidelines are no longer mandatory because the court can now go below those guidelines.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that judges are required to consider sentencing guidelines, but are not restricted to them.

Last April, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld Wafer’s 17-year prison sentence but ruled that he could seek a new sentencing hearing in the case.

Wafer is qualified for a new hearing and possible sentence change, but no decision or hearing date has been set.

In June 2015, McBride’s family agreed to an undisclosed financial settlement which was not released due to a confidentially agreement.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)