Judge: No victim's texts at porch shooting trial
- Article by: ED WHITE
- Associated Press
- June 27, 2014 - 5:55 PM
DETROIT — A judge on Friday rejected a request to turn the victim's text messages into evidence for the defense at the upcoming trial of a Detroit-area man who fatally shot a young unarmed woman on his porch.
Attorney Cheryl Carpenter said slang references to marijuana were critical for the defense because they suggest Renisha McBride was selling drugs and may have had an aggressive side.
"I don't want to use this to drag her through the mud. You won't hear me argue at trial she's a bad person. ... If you strip this from me, you're going to hamstring the defense," Carpenter said.
But Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway said using the messages as evidence would be unfair because "none of these" show the 19-year-old was an aggressor before she was shot in the face last November on Theodore Wafer's Dearborn Heights porch.
Wafer, 55, is charged with second-degree murder. His lawyers say he shot McBride in self-defense because he feared for his safety when she banged on his door before dawn. Prosecutors, however, say he should have kept the door closed and called 911.
Hathaway plowed through a stack of issues ahead of a July 21 trial. She said the jury won't be allowed to see a map of police runs reported in Wafer's neighborhood last year — evidence collected by the defense to show he was on alert about trouble on his street.
The judge said retired medical examiner Dr. Werner Spitz can testify about the body's reaction to sudden fear but cannot give an opinion about whether Wafer was justified in shooting McBride.
McBride, who had an extremely high blood-alcohol level, was shot three hours after she walked away from a car crash, about a half-mile away in Detroit. It's not known where she went on foot before arriving at Wafer's porch.
"She didn't speak a single word at Mr. Wafer's house," Carpenter said.
The judge didn't immediately rule on whether the defense can use selfies from McBride's phone showing her with money, alcohol, marijuana and what appears to be a gun. Prosecutors said the photos, like the text messages, don't belong in the case.
Holding up her own phone, assistant prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark offered a hypothetical.
"You might find a naked picture of me. Does that make me a hooker?" she asked.
© 2016 Star Tribune