After a preliminary hearing that spanned two days, Wayne County District Court judge David D. Turfe ruled Thursday that Theodore Wafer will stand trial for fatally shooting 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch. Wafer told police he believed his home was being broken into and he accidentally discharged his shotgun in the early morning hours of Nov. 2.
Wafer has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and a related felony gun charge.
Turfe said the nature of a shotgun is to either shoot someone, scare someone, or protect yourself. The judge said there were other reasonable options, including calling for help and not answering the door that Wafer could have employed.
During the hearing, Wafer repeatedly looked uncomfortable, often grimacing when McBride's injuries were recounted and when he heard his 911 call after the shooting. Wafer once again looked pained when the judge ruled on the case.
Turfe methodically gave a summary of the evidence that was presented, including disagreements over questions of fact, including a "battle of the experts," who disagreed on whether McBride was shot at close range, within three feet, or outside of close range.
But in the end, the judge went back to the testimony of Carmen Beasley, a woman whose parked car McBride crashed into earlier in the night.
"Ms. Beasley summed up the case perfectly," Turfe said. "She said she wanted to assess the situation before she went out there. She called 911 first, she thought first, then she acted."
"We can't automatically penalize someone when pressed to react quickly," he continued. "But we can't allow someone to use a bad decision as a shield from criminal prosecution. His first thought was to bring a gun, not call for help."
Turfe concluded that the "prosecutor has met the burden of probable cause," related to the murder and manslaughter charges brought against Wafer.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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