DETROIT - A suburban Detroit man who killed an unarmed young woman on his porch was rocked out of sleep by pounding sounds outside his home, causing him to grab a shotgun, open the front door and fire, a defence lawyer told jurors during opening statements Wednesday.
Theodore Wafer is claiming self-defence in the death last year of Renisha McBride, 19. But prosecutors have charged the 55-year-old with second-degree murder, saying there was no reason to use deadly force instead of calling police.
Wafer and McBride didn't know each other. She ended up on his porch hours after crashing her car into a parked car. An autopsy found her blood-alcohol level was about 0.22, which is nearly three times above Michigan's legal limit for driving.
Jurors have been asked for their views on race, guns and self-defence. McBride was black while Wafer is white.
Asleep in his recliner, Wafer heard pounding at a side door, said defence attorney Cheryl Carpenter.
"His heart is coming out of his chest. ... There's a shadowy figure coming off the porch and going to the side of the house. He thinks it's not one person; it's two or more people," Carpenter told the jury.
Wafer eventually loaded his shotgun, opened the front door and fired.
"His actions that night were unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable," prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark told the jury.
She said there was no evidence of an attempted break-in.
The jury heard four witnesses on the first day of testimony, including a woman who called for an ambulance for McBride after the crash. Carmen Beasley said McBride was bleeding and pressing her hands to her head, but she walked away before help arrived.
"I assumed she was drunk. ... She just kept saying she wanted to go home," Beasley said.
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