DETROIT - Jurors in the upcoming trial of a Detroit-area man who shot a young, drunk woman on his porch won't see selfies of the victim with a gun, marijuana and cash, a judge said Monday in another defeat for the defense.
Theodore Wafer's attorneys want to show the photos from Renisha McBride's cellphone to demonstrate that she had an aggressive side. But Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway said there could be a "million reasons" why the 19-year-old posed that way.
"There is nothing in the photographs that establishes a reputation for violent or aggressive behavior," Hathaway said.
Wafer, 55, of Dearborn Heights is charged with second-degree murder in the death of McBride, who was shot in the face. Wafer says he shot the 19-year-old in self-defense in response to pounding at his door last November. McBride was unarmed. Wafer's trial is scheduled to begin July 21.
In court filings and arguments, Wafer's attorneys have clearly signaled their strategy: He lives alone in a neighborhood on the edge of Detroit and was afraid of what he was hearing at about 4:30 a.m.
Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter has tried to get the judge to allow the defense to use McBride's text messages, which carry a slang reference to marijuana, and the provocative photos, but the judge won't budge. Separately, Judge Hathaway agreed to approve subpoenas to get access to social media sites that the victim may have used.
"Our defense is blown to pieces if you don't allow me to argue to the jury that she could have been up to no good. ... She could have been running from somebody," Carpenter said.
Carpenter acknowledged that questioning McBride's reputation "leaves a bad taste" but "we have to do this."
More than three hours earlier before the fatal shooting, McBride crashed her car about a half-mile away from Wafer's home in Detroit but walked away before an ambulance arrived. It's not known what she did between the crash and the shooting.
Her family believes McBride probably was seeking help at Wafer's house, but the defense says there's no evidence.