Theodore Wafer appears at his preliminary exam before Dearborn Heights District Court Judge David Turfe on Wednesday. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
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— Theodore Wafer, 54, accused of fatally shooting 19-year-old Detroiter Renisha McBride last month as she stood on his front porch in the early morning, on Thursday was ordered to stand trial for her murder.
Dearborn Heights District Judge David Turfe, who presided over the two-day preliminary examination, said Wafer made a “bad choice” on Nov. 2 in deciding not to call 911 if he feared for his safety.
“He could have not answered the door or ran out of the house to a (neighbor),” said Turfe in making his ruling. “He had other options as opposed to shooting (McBride).”
Turfe added: “We cannot let someone use a bad decision as a shield from prosecution.”
In making his ruling, Turfe noted the testimony of some witnesses who suggested McBride was not aggressive or combative hours before the incident. He also continued Wafer’s bond which was set at $250,000, 10 percent.
Following the ruling, McBride’s aunt, Bernita Spinks, exclaimed outside the courtroom: “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord!” Spinks added she is praying for Wafer’s family as she is praying for her own.
Wafer’s attorneys, Cheryl and Mack Carpenter, a daughter-father team, said they were disappointed with the ruling and that they were not allowed to show a videotaped statement of their client being questioned by police about the shooting.
“We’re really looking forward to the trial when you will get all of the evidence,” said Cheryl Carpenter after Thursday’s ruling.
The preliminary hearing was held to determine whether there was enough evidence to bind Wafer over on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and firearms violations. Ten witnesses testified during the two-day exam including police officers, forensic experts and two women who assisted McBride following an earlier single-car accident on Brammell near Warren, about a mile away from Wafer’s home on West Outer Drive.
During the hearing, Wayne County assistant prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark said Wafer could have decided not to open the front door and call police. Instead, Hagaman-Clark said Wafer acted in a different manner when he “shoved the gun in her face and pulled the trigger.”
But Cheryl Carpenter argued her client acted in self-defense after fearing that someone was breaking into his home around 4:30 a.m. “I’m not trying to say she caused it,” Cheryl Carpenter said Thursday. “I’m looking at it through the eyes of the homeowner. There is someone banging on the side door. We have a man alone in his house.”
Carpenter said Michigan’s 2006 law allows residents to act in self-defense if they have a reasonable fear that they face harm or death in a situation when they are in their own home.
Two women who saw the accident that McBride was involved in when she struck a parked car on Brammell said the young woman was disoriented and dazed following the crash. But, they added, she was not belligerent or showed any aggressive behavior following the crash.
Toxicology results have showed McBride had a large amount of alcohol and traces of marijuana in her system. The next hearing date is set for Jan. 15.