Theodore Wafer charged with murder in shooting death of Renisha McBride

"We obviously do not feel that the evidence in this case reveals that the defendant acted in lawful self-defense"

By Katie McDonough
Published November 15, 2013 11:25PM (UTC)
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A mourner holds an obituary showing a picture of 19-year-old shooting victim Renisha McBride during her funeral service in Detroit, Michigan November 8, 2013. (Reuters/Joshua Lott)

Michigan officials announced Friday that Theodore Wafer has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and a related gun charge in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride, who is believed to have been looking for help following a car accident when she was shot and killed.

"We obviously do not feel that the evidence in this case reveals that the defendant acted in lawful self-defense," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.


“We have issued these charges because we believe the evidence will show that self-defense was not warranted,” she continued. “Under Michigan law, there is no duty to retreat in your own home, however, someone who claims self-defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm, and that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm.”

Wafer, a white man, has said that he believed McBride, an African-American teenager, was an intruder, and that his shotgun discharged "accidentally." Wafer shot McBride through a locked screen door. As Salon has previously noted, the coroner's report on McBride ruled her death a homicide.

Wafer is expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the second-degree murder charge.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Crime Gun Violence Guns Racism Renisha Mcbride