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Theodore Wafer

Theodore Wafer

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Shawn Kolonich, a firearms expert for the Michigan State Police, testified Dec. 18 that the shot gun used by Theodore Wafer to shoot and kill Renisha McBride Nov. 1 did not fire by accident.

Whether Wafer will face charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter — death by a weapon aimed with intent but without malice, and felony firearm in the death of McBride, 19, was the subject of a preliminary examination before Judge David D. Turfe in the20th District Court in Dearborn Heights as the Michigan Citizen went to press Dec. 18.

Early in the proceedings, Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Kilak Kesha testified McBride’s wounds from the gunshot were so horrific they masked any possible injuries from an auto accident she had experienced about three hours earlier on Bramell Street, a quarter block north of West Warren. “She had no way to survive,” Kesha said. The wound track proceeded from front to back, left to right passed through, fracturing bones and “pulpified the brain.” There was no exit wound.

Dispatcher tapes revealed Wafer called Dearborn Heights police department at 4:42 a.m. saying he had shot a Black female knocking on his door. McBride’s whereabouts from the 1 a.m. accident to the 4:42 call from Wafer were unaccounted for in testimony as the paper went to press.

Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter unsuccessfully challenged Kesha’s credentials since he is not board certified, has been on the job since April, and has published only one article on forensic pathology.

Shawn Kolonich

Shawn Kolonich

Kesha testified the 5’4”, 180-pound McBride was not shot at close range although police testimony put her body on the porch with her feet approximately eighteen inches from Wafer’s front door. He said there was no soot nor stippling, both indicators of close range shooting, but that the screen door could have prevented the sooting and stippling on her body. He testified that there was not much spread to the pellets, an indication of the victim being close.

Her clothes were wet and her shoes gone, Kesha said, when he saw the body. Police officers testified it was cold and rainy that night, but were uncertain when the rain began. It was not raining at the time of the auto accident, witnesses testified.

The sole of her left boot was torn off in photos shown by the prosecutor. No explanation was given.

There was no testimony of any toxicology reports for Wafer, but Kesha testified McBride’s blood alcohol level at the time of death was 0.218, three times the legal limit, and had a marijuana level of nine. There was no way to determine when she had smoked the marijuana, he said. Kesha found blood on the palm of her hands, but after washing it off, found no scrapes or abrasions or swelling on her hands or arms. Later on in the proceeding, Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark presented photos of a “spidering” on the windshield of McBride’s car, indicating her head might have hit the windshield.

Carmen Beasley testified she was in her home on Bramell when she heard a loud noise. She immediately dialed 911 and then went to the window to look out and report to the operator what she could see. McBride, driving a white car, hit Beasley’s car in the driveway, which then hit and pushed Beasley’s husband’s car up onto the grass.

Beasley said she saw McBride walking toward a church on the corner of Warren and Bramell holding her hands to her head at the temples. Eventually McBride walked back to her car where Beasley was.

McBride “appeared hurt, was bleeding and drunk,” Beasley testified.

Beasley attempted to help McBride by asking for her cell phone and who could she call for help. McBride patted herself looking for the phone, then went back into the car to look. A detective later testified the phone was plugged in and next to the console in the car and was cracked.

According to Beasley, McBride wandered off again when she went back inside her house to call police again and also to get an ambulance for McBride.

Detective Sgt. Stephen Gurka testified there was nothing in Wafer’s home to indicate McBride had been inside or there was a financial relationship between McBride and Wafer.

No usable fingerprints were found on any of Wafer’s three doors, although officers did not test for fingerprints until nine days after the shooting. There was no tampering or damage to the locks or handles on any of the doors, Gurka said. He said he was not aware that the peep hole on the front door was not working until over a week after the crime. Nor did the police retrieve the screen door and frame until a week after the shooting, although Gurka testified there was human tissue on both.

A judge will decide if Wafer is to stand trial on the charges.

— Staff report

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