Porch shooting defendant grilled by prosecutors

Elisha Anderson
Detroit Free Press
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Theodore Wafer takes the stand in his own defense Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, in Detroit. Wafer is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Renisha McBride in 2013.

DETROIT — During cross-examination Tuesday of the man charged with shooting an unarmed teenager on his porch last year, prosecutors pointed out several details he did not tell investigators the morning of the shooting but mentioned during testimony.

Among them: why Theodore Wafer didn't tell investigators he couldn't find his cellphone before he shot Renisha McBride in November after she banged on the front and side doors of his Dearborn Heights, Mich., home in the middle of the night.

Wafer said he thought he had said that, but under repeated questioning said it doesn't seem like he had.

"In fact, you had regrets about not calling them, right?" asked Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas.

"I had regrets about, yes, not calling them, not finding my phone," Wafer replied.

Wafer, who is facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the death of the 19-year-old, testified in his trial in Wayne County Circuit Court for more than two hours Tuesday.

Renisha McBride, 19, was shot by the homeowner through his locked screen door.

He has said he woke up to banging at his home around 4:30 a.m. Nov. 2. The sound moved back and forth between the side door and front door, repeatedly, he previously testified.

The 55-year-old man, who lived alone and didn't have a land line, testified Monday he unsuccessfully searched for his cellphone, grabbed a baseball bat, but the pounding became increasingly violent, and he got his 12-gauge shotgun.

The detail about the bat was not mentioned in the interview with police either, Siringas said, asking whether he never thought to tell the investigator about that. She also pointed out that he didn't say anything about crawling in his house, which the defense contends he did after he was awakened by banging on his door.

Siringas grilled him about why he didn't check his front jean pocket for his phone, since that is where he often kept it and Wafer replied he didn't keep it there when he was at home.

"Sir, you didn't call the police because you're mad and you wanted to handle this thing yourself, isn't that the truth?" she asked.

"No, it's not," Wafer replied, but he acknowledged he was upset.

After police arrived at his home in November he told them: "I open up the door, kind of like, 'Who is this?' and the gun discharged. I didn't know there was a round in there."

On Monday, he said he pulled the trigger as a "reflex reaction," defending himself.

Wafer was asked whether he shot on purpose because he was in fear, or whether the gun went off accidentally, accusing him of trying to have it both ways.

Wafer said he shot in fear, adding he shot on purpose.

Wafer said again Tuesday he did not know the gun was loaded and told prosecutors: "I did what I had to do to protect myself."

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