Theodore Wafer trial: Prosecutors give closing statements
- 6 August 2014
- From the section US & Canada
A man who killed an unarmed black woman on his suburban Detroit porch should have called the police if he was afraid, prosecutors have said.
In closing statements, jurors were told Theodore Wafer, 55, should not have acted as "judge, jury and executioner" in shooting Renisha McBride, 19.
Mr Wafer has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2 November killing.
He said he fired because he refused to be a victim in his home.
'Looking for help'
On Wednesday, the jury began deliberations in the case.
In their arguments closing the two-week trial, prosecutors said Mr Wafer had easier options than to confront Ms McBride directly when she banged on the door of his house in Dearborn Heights in the early hours of the morning.
Ms McBride had crashed her car into a parked vehicle close to Mr Wafer's house hours before the shooting. It is unclear how and why she arrived at his house - the two did not know one another.
A toxicology report later showed that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.218%, well above the state's drink-driving limit.
"She was a young girl looking for help,'' said prosecutor Patrick Muscat.
"What he did had to be immediately necessary and it wasn't. It was reckless. It was negligent. I don't know how to describe it. It was horrific."
Mr Wafer has argued he acted in self-defence because he was afraid for his life.
In her closing statement, his defence lawyer Cheryl Carpenter asked jurors to put themselves "in his shoes".
"He did not know it was a 19-year-old who got in a car crash at 01:00," she said. "What he knew was someone was trying to get in."
'Them or me'
On Monday Mr Wafer described how on the night of the killing he was woken by banging on his doors and thought there could have been more than one person outside his home.
He said he had been sleeping in a recliner and could not immediately find his phone to call the police for help.
Instead, he told jurors he took his 12-gauge shotgun and opened his front door slightly and saw the outer screen door was damaged. He said he pulled the trigger to defend himself.
"It was them or me," he said.
When police arrived, they found Ms McBride's body in a pool of blood just off the porch. She had been shot in the face.
Under state of Michigan law, Mr Wafer must convince the jury he had a reasonable and honest fear for his life.
If convicted, he could face a life sentence with the possibility of parole.