Wafer / McBride Trial Update
Theodore Wafer, who is facing 2nd degree murder charges for the fatal shooting of Renisha McBride, has spent the last week in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit. He is accused of murdering the 19-year-old Detroit woman. However, he claims he shot her entirely out of self-defense.
On Monday, which was the third day of testimony in the murder trial, it opened with 25-year-old Davonta Bynes of Detroit, a friend of Renisha’s who had been in contact with her via text before her death. He told the jury that at about 11 pm he spoke to her on the phone. He was concerned at the time that she had been drugged because she seemed to be severely intoxicated and was slurring her speech very badly.
Wafer’s neighbor also took the stand. Ray Murad, who lives across the street from him in Dearborn Heights, told the court that he had been awake and in his home office that night when he heard noises outside his window. He described the sounds as being like “rain and trees banging” against his car. He said that he looked outside but saw nothing.
Dearborn Police Sgt. Cyndi Maxwell, an evidence technician and fingerprint specialist, also testified on Monday. She described finding smudged prints on Wafer’s door that belonged to McBride, and also described skin-oil transfers that contained a weave-pattern, showing that it was likely that McBride had pounded on Wafer’s screen hard enough to hit the front door behind it.
On Wednesday, Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter raised the possibility that McBride was not alone on that night when she arrived at Wafer’s house and pounded violently on his door. “Another person was with Renisha McBride that night trying to break into Wafer’s house.” she told the court, and then proceeded to accuse Dearborn Heights Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Gurka, who led the homicide investigation, of being untruthful in his testimony.
This portion of Carpenter’s theory of an unknown accomplice hinges on a possible footprint which police noted on the air conditioner located inside the fenced-off backyard.
Police photographed the footprint but never lifted it for comparison. With regard to Gurka’s oversight of this piece of evidence, Carpenter says, “He did have information that there could be someone else there and he did not follow up.”
On Thursday, another witness for the defense who provided testimony was Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist and the former Chief Wayne County medical examiner. He told the court that, based on his examination of pictures taken at the scene of the shooting, McBride’s hands showed signs of swelling which he felt were likely the result of her pounding on Wafer’s door, not the drunken car accident she had been in earlier that evening.
However, Dr. Kilak Kesha, the current assistant Wayne County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on McBride, had already testified that he had not seen any injuries on her hands.
Finally, the defense called retired Michigan State Police Detective Lt. David Balash. He had conducted tests on Wafer’s gun and determined that McBride was shot at close range; specifically, less than 2 feet.
He also provided an example for the jury regarding how the gun would have been held and how the bullet would have hit the screen. All of this supports the defense’s theory that the screen had been so violently pounded on by McBride that she had knocked the screen out of the frame.
The trial will resume at 9 am on Monday morning in the Wayne County Circuit Court.