As the highly controversial Renisha McBride shooting trial began in Detroit Wednesday, jurors heard two different versions of what happened that night from the lawyers on opposing sides in their opening statements, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Lawyers for Theodore Wafer—the 55-year-old Dearborn Heights, Mich., resident charged in the shooting death of the young, unarmed woman on his front porch—argued that their client was awakened in the early-morning hours of Nov. 2, 2013, to frightening banging on his door.
Wafer, defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter said, did not have a landline in his home and could not find his cellphone to call 911, so, crawling across the floor, he turned off the TV and the lights so that no one would know he was home, the Free Press detailed.
“His heart is coming out of his chest,” Carpenter told the 14-person jury, four of whom are black.
As the banging continued, Wafer got his legally owned shotgun, opened the door and fired upon seeing a figure no more than a couple of feet away coming at him from the side, the lawyer argued, according to the Free Press.
“People were trying to get in,” Carpenter said as part of the argument that Wafer shot the 19-year-old McBride out of self-defense. “That was reasonable for Ted to believe, and that’s what he believed that night.”
After he fired at McBride, he found his cellphone in his jeans pocket in the bathroom and called 911.
However, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark called Wafer’s actions “unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable,” telling jurors, “Because of what he did that night, a 19-year-old girl is dead on a porch in Dearborn Heights.”
Although not arguing that Wafer meant to kill the teen, the prosecution is taking the stance that Wafer created a situation where “death or great bodily harm was likely to occur,” the Free Press reports.
Hagaman-Clark is arguing that when police arrived on the scene, the screen door was locked, as were the other entrances to the house, including windows.
“It’s the people’s position that taking a gun; having it loaded; having the safety off; opening a locked, secure door; jamming it in the face of an unarmed teenager; and pulling the trigger is a situation that’s created and likely to cause great bodily harm,” she said, according to the news site.
According to the New York Daily News, McBride’s drinking habits were also a point of focus for the defense. The teen was drunk when she was shot, with her blood alcohol level at .22, which is more than three times over the legal limit in the state.
A friend admitted to the court that she and McBride had been playing a drinking game, as well as smoking marijuana, before the ill-fated teen left after they argued, according to the Daily News.
McBride’s mother, who also took that stand Wednesday, lamented that she had “fussed” with her daughter about dirty dishes left in the sink, the site reported.
“I’m very sorry for your loss,” Carpenter, who was doing a cross-examination at that time, told the mother before asking about the teen’s drinking.
Monica McBride called her daughter a “social drinker” who sometimes got into bed with her when she drank too much.
The family believes that McBride was looking for help after she crashed her vehicle into a parked car.
Wafer, who has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm, faces up to life in prison.