Defense Signals It Will Question Detroit Shooting Victim’s Past

Lawyers for defendant Theodore Wafer also raised the rookie judge’s links to prosecutors as a disqualifying conflict of interest. 

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Renisha McBride and Theodore Wafer, a Dearborn Heights resident charged with second-degree murder in her shooting death

Dearborn Heights Police

The defendant may not be the only one on trial in the fatal shooting of Renisha McBride in Detroit on the night of Nov. 2.

According to the Associated Press, lawyers defending Theodore Wafer are planning to use McBride's lifestyle against her in the trial, which is set to start in June. They are also calling for the current judge, a newcomer to the bench, to step down from the case because of a perceived conflict of interest.

The thought that McBride approached Wafer's house for help after her car crashed is "fiction" and "utterly erroneous," said Cheryl Carpenter, one of Wafer's attorneys.

Hints as to "whether Ms. McBride had a character trait for aggression" are relevant, Carpenter asserted, pointing to text messages, photos, school records as well as any previous police records as materials that could be introduced at the trial, AP reports. Carpenter wants the jury to be allowed to see photos from the young woman's phone that show her with stacks of cash, alcohol and marijuana. There is one blurry photo of McBride holding what could be a gun.

There is no doubt that the 55-year-old defendant shot the intoxicated 19-year-old in the face last November after she crashed her car and later showed up at the man's door. Wafer says that he thought the young woman was trying to break into his house, but prosecutors say that he should have called 911 and kept his front door shut.

Wafer's lawyers also said that McBride could have thought she was breaking into her marijuana supplier's house.

But McBride's character is not all that is being called into question. The defense is challenging the suitability of Judge Qiana Lillard—who took a seat on the bench only last August after serving as a prosecutor for eight years. According to AP, Lillard is Facebook friends with prosecutors in the case. Some former co-workers are also working on her fall election campaign committee.

"The risk that Judge Lillard would subconsciously use personal and/or political relationships with the prosecution to Mr. Wafer's detriment is simply too great here," Carpenter wrote in the defense request for a different judge, according to AP.

Read more at the Associated Press.