By Aaron Foley
DETROIT (Reuters) – A white suburban Detroit homeowner who shot to death a black teenage girl on his front porch said he intended to shoot, but was acting out of fear and not aiming at her.
Theodore Wafer, 55, is accused of killing Renisha McBride, 19, with a shotgun blast to the face through a screen door in Dearborn Heights after she knocked looking for help in the early morning hours last November. He took the stand in his second-degree murder trial on Monday, and continued his testimony on Tuesday.
Wafer said that he “shot in fear” when he saw a figure coming to his door. When asked by a prosecutor if he had shot on purpose, Wafer said: “Yes… but there was no aiming effect.”
He also testified under cross-examination that he regretted not finding his phone and calling police before using his gun that night.
Wafer wept during his testimony on Monday, saying he regretted killing the unarmed McBride but that the violent knocking on his front and side doors made him think someone was trying to break into his house.
The airport maintenance worker faces up to life in prison, if convicted.
Wafer also testified on Monday that he couldn’t find his cell phone to call police, and went to the door with his shotgun. He had told police the shooting was an accident, and testified that he pulled the trigger as a “reflex reaction” in self-defense.
Prosecutors have called Wafer’s actions unjustified and unreasonable, and they said he had other options besides shooting, including calling police.
McBride’s mother, Monica McBride, shed tears on Tuesday when Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas told Wafer he had left a “big gaping hole” in Renisha’s face.
The killing of McBride has sparked protests in Dearborn Heights and comparisons with the 2012 Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was also unarmed.
Gerald Thurswell, the McBride family lawyer, told reporters before court on Tuesday that he believed Wafer was trying to sway opinion on the mostly white jury by talking about how “renters” had been replacing owners in his historically white neighborhood.
Thurswell told reporters that he believes “renters” is a code word for racial minorities.
“It was the race card,” Thurswell said.
McBride had been in a car accident and was intoxicated when she came to Wafer’s door, according to previous testimony.
(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Gunna Dickson)