The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

US man who shot young woman in face on his porch convicted of second-degree murder

  • Print

DETROIT - A jury convicted a man of second-degree murder and manslaughter on Thursday after he shot an unarmed young woman in the face on his porch last year after she pounded on his door. It rejected his claim that he was afraid for his life and had acted in self-defence.

The case once again raised national issues of race and the use of guns in self-defence. Theodore Wafer is white and Renisha McBride was black, and some wondered at first whether race may have been a factor, but that angle was hardly mentioned at the trial.

Wafer shot McBride through a screen door on Nov. 2, hours after she crashed into a parked car near his house. No one knows why she ended up at the home, although prosecutors speculated that the 19-year-old may have been seeking help. An autopsy found she was extremely drunk.

"She just wanted to go home," prosecutor Patrick Muscat said during closing arguments, holding the shotgun Wafer used to kill McBride. "She ended up in the morgue with bullets in her head and in her brain because the defendant picked up this shotgun, released this safety, raised it at her, pulled the trigger and blew her face off."

Wafer, 55, who had been free on bond, was also convicted on a gun-related charge and was ordered to jail to await his sentence. He could face up to life in prison with the possibility of parole, but it is likely his sentence will be much shorter.

"He was a cold-blooded killer. ... People have a right to bear arms, but you need to do it with reason and responsibility," McBride's father, Walter Simmons, told reporters.

Wafer, who lives alone, said he was woken out of sleep around 4:30 a.m. by pounding at his front and side doors. He testified that the noises were "unbelievable."

"I wasn't going to cower in my house," Wafer said.

He said he thought there could have been more than one person outside. Wafer said he pulled the trigger "to defend myself. It was them or me."

"He armed himself. He was getting attacked," defence attorney Cheryl Carpenter told jurors. "Put yourselves in his shoes at 4:30 in the morning."

But prosecutors said Wafer could have stayed safely in his locked home and called police instead of confronting McBride.

"It's about people with guns who don't use the right judgment before they pick them up," McBride's aunt, Bernita Spinks, said outside the courthouse.

Carpenter couldn't immediately be reached for reaction.

Other recent cases have raised questions about self-defence, especially the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen in Florida by a neighbourhood watch volunteer. George Zimmerman was acquitted last year after arguing self-defence.

And this year, a Montana man was accused of killing a 17-year-old German exchange student after setting a trap to find whoever was responsible for recent thefts at his home.

Beginning with Florida in 2005, at least 22 states have expanded the self-defence principle known as the "castle doctrine," the premise that a person has the right to defend his or her home against attack.

The laws make it easier for a person to shoot someone and avoid prosecution by saying they felt an imminent danger.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Preview: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos


Are you worried Ebola might make its way to Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google