A Dearborn Heights man scheduled to go on trial June 2 on charges that he fatally shot an unarmed drunk woman from his porch last November is asking Waye County Circuit Judge Judge Qiana Lillard to step aside.
Theodore Wafer has admitted that he shot the Renisha McBride, but says it was in self-defense. Several court filings suggest that Wafer plans an aggressive defense to the charges and that the victim’s lifestyle should be fair game, the Detroit Free Press reports.
On the night of Nov. 2, McBride, 19, reportedly approached Wafer’s house after a car crash. He opened the door and shot in the face from about two feet away. Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, said suggestions that she was on the porch to seek help after the car crash are “fiction.”
If Wafer was afraid, prosecutors say, he shouldn’t have opened the door and should have called 911 instead.
Wafer faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter — death by weapon aimed with intent but without malice, and felony firearm.
A hearing on several pretrial motions is set for Friday, among them one asking Lillard, who is Facebook friends with prosecutors in the case, to recuse herself.
“The risk that Judge Lillard would subconsciously use personal and/or political relationships with the prosecution to Mr. Wafer’s detriment is simply too great here,” Carpenter wrote in her motion..
Wafer’s lawyers also want the trial moved out of wayne County because of pretrial publicity.
That includes allegations by civil rights groups that the shooting was racially motivated, though prosecutors haven’t put together evidence suggesting that will be an issue at the trial. Wafer is white and McBride was black.
Wafer’s attorneys also want jurors to be able to see some photos taken from McBride’s phone that show her with large sums of money, alcohol and marijuana. Another photo they’d like for the jury to see is a blurry photo of McBride holding what appears to be a gun.
Those photos, her criminal record and school record are relevant to “whether Ms. McBride had a character trait for aggression,” Carpenter wrote, and should be allowed at trial.
However, prosecutors argue they’re not relevant.Further, the defense wants to present evidence of about 80 police reports related to shots being fired in the vicinity of Wafer’s home in the months before the shooting, which would substantiate his claim that he had reason to be afraid.