Watch CBS News

Court Testimony: Dearborn Heights Man 3 Feet From Teen McBride When He Shot Her In Face

By Christy Strawser, digital director
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Theodore Paul Wafer was about 3 feet from Renisha McBride when he opened fire, shooting her in the face, according to testimony in his preliminary examination Wednesday.

Wafer, 54, is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and a felony firearm charge in the shooting death of  McBride, 19.

The death of the teen has been a flashpoint, with protesters calling the incident "another Trayvon." McBride was unarmed and allegedly looking for help in the well-kept Dearborn Heights neighborhood when she was killed.

Testimony included a toxicology report that showed McBride's blood-alcohol content was roughly 0.22 percent – more than twice the .08 legal limit for driving in Michigan and eleven times the .02 legal limit for minors. The report also showed that McBride had marijuana in her system.

At between .3 and .4, people usually become comatose, testified Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Kali Keisha. Death from alcohol poisoning generally comes at .4, he added.

"They have unsteady gait, they're confused and sometimes they're talking irrationally," Keisha said, describing how someone may act with McBride's level of intoxication.

The teen was wearing black boots, dark jeans, a blue hoodie, and had $56 in her back pocket when she was shot in the face in the early morning hours Nov. 2 on the porch of a home on Outer Drive near Warren Avenue, according to a police report. Hours earlier, McBride was involved in a car accident several blocks north of where the shooting later occurred.

Carmen Beasley of Detroit testified that at about 1 a.m. on the night of McBride's death she heard a loud crash and realized her husband's car, which was parked on the street, had been hit. "I watched a little bit," Beasley testified, saying the driver later identified at McBride walked away from the crash "like, holding her head."

She said she asked the teen if she was OK and requested her cell phone so she could call someone she knew for help. "She was like patting her pockets," Beasley said, adding McBride "just kept saying she wanted to go home."

"I wanted to get her home; you know, safely," Beasley said. "And then at that point I saw blood on her hands ...  I said 'you're hurt,' let me call an ambulance."

Keisha testified she had no marks from a seat belt on her, indicating either she had not been wearing one or the impact was too slight to leave marks. Because of the severe shotgun wound, there was no way to tell if she had an earlier head injury from the crash, Keisha testified.

McBride had a "significant amount" of blood on her right hand, but no scrapes or abrasions, Keisha said.

Wafer has a clean criminal record — except for an old driving under the influence conviction — and a high security clearance at his job.

Bond was set at $250,000/10 percent.

Wafer had reportedly told police he killed McBride — whom prosecutor Kym Worthy described as "bleeding and disoriented" after a car crash  — in self defense. Police confiscated a 12-gauge shotgun from near the front door; the gun's case was in a bedroom. The gun blast went through the front screen door, according to a police report.

Worthy had said there were no signs of forced entry to the home.

Worthy has also said the victim and Wafer did not know each other." [LISTEN TO THE 911 CALL]

WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said the toxicology report might have some impact on the case and the suspect's defense.

"Absent other factors, the fact that Miss McBride was drunk or high does not justify her death. Now, the shooter, on the other hand, may try to infer that Miss McBride was attempting to break into the house and her intoxication justified the shooter's fear of a break in," Langton said.

When asked by a reporter, Worthy said she did not believe Wafer was tested for drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.