Michigan Man to Stand Trial in Fatal Shooting of Woman on Porch

Latest high-profile case to stir debate over self-defense laws

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The front cover of a funeral service program for 19-year-old Renisha McBride at House of Prayer & Praise Cathedral in Detroit on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. McBride was shot and killed by a Dearborn Heights home owner in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 2 after she approached his house.

A suburban Detroit man charged with shooting an unarmed, drunk woman to death as she knocked on his front door must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Tuesday.

After a two-day preliminary hearing, Theodore Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., was ordered held while he faces a second-degree murder trial in the death of Renisha McBride, 19, the Detroit News reports. McBride was unarmed on Wafer’s front porch when he shot her in the face in November, and toxicology reports showed that she had alcohol and marijuana in her system. She had wandered about a mile to Wafer’s home at about 4:30 a.m. after crashing into a parked car, and Wafer has said he feared for his safety and acted in self-defense.

It’s the latest of several high-profile cases that have sparked debate about guns, self-defense laws and race — Wafer is White, McBride was black and seeming echoes of the Trayvon Martin case attracted national attention.

(MORE: Shootings Cast Pall Over Detroit’s Comeback Narrative)

Wafer’s attorneys argued that he was fearful that someone was breaking into his home when he heard the banging so late at night. A 2006 Michigan law, they argued, allows acts of self defense if there is a reasonable fear of danger.

But Michigan District Court Judge David Turfe gave weight to prosecutors’ argument that Wafer could have chosen to keep his door closed and call police, rather than opening fire at close range.

Wafer was charged by Wayne County prosecutors with second degree murder and manslaughter. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 15.

[Detroit News]