Murder Trial Begins in Porch Shooting, Defense Lawyers Question Collection and Contamination of Evidence

On Wednesday July 24, the murder trial of Theodore Wafer, a white middle-aged man who is charged with shooting 19-year-old Renisha McBride, who is African American, through his screen door began. News reports at the New York Daily News call the Detroit murder case “racially charged.” pistol-1329263-m

Wafer, who is 55 years old, allegedly shot McBride through the screen door of his home after he was awakened by someone banging on his door. Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter described the scene in a Detroit courtroom on Wednesday, saying that Wafer was sleeping in his recliner when he heard “Boom, boom, boom!” at least four times, jumped up and grabbed his shotgun when he could not find his cell phone. The incident took place just after 4:30 a.m., and according to Wafer’s attorneys, he feared he was about to be robbed.

News reports indicate that McBride had been drinking, perhaps had been involved in a drinking game with a friend earlier in the evening. McBride had been in a one-car accident, and could have been seeking medical help when she banged on Wafer’s door. Others question whether she may have thought she was banging on her parent’s or a friend’s door in her confused and injured state.

In court on Thursday, the handling of evidence by the Dearborn Heights Police Department came into question. Carpenter questioned officer Mark Parrinello as to why the crime scene was not dusted for fingerprints. Parrinello, who is an evidence technician, replied that he was not instructed to dust the scene immediately by his command officers. The scene was dusted 10 days after the incident, which left defense attorneys questioning whether key evidence is contaminated.

Because McBride was involved in a one-car accident prior to the shooting on the defendant’s porch, defense attorneys also wanted to know why the blood in her car was discovered at a Detroit tow yard, and not the day prior when Parrinello had searched the victim’s car for her cell phone. There were also maggots found on the victim’s clothes, a fact that Parrinello attributed to the clothes being stored next to deer meat at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Contamination of evidence seemed to be the primary topic during the first day of Wafer’s trial. He is charged with second-degree murder.

In Michigan, individuals who are charged with second-degree murder may be sentenced to any number of years to life in prison if found guilty. No doubt in this case defense attorneys will attempt to use the collection and handling of evidence to their client’s advantage.

As this unfortunate incident clearly demonstrates, nearly anyone can find him- or herself facing murder charges. Regardless of the seriousness of the crime you have been accused of, it is vital to contact a capable and aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer immediately.