Defense in Renisha McBride murder trial concerned about jury pool

Theodore Wafer faces second-degree murder trial after shooting 19-year-old woman on his Dearborn Heights porch

By Priya Mann - Reporter

DETROIT - Theodore Wafer was expressionless during his pretrial hearing on Friday.

Wafer shot and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride through his screen door before dawn on Nov. 2. He says he feared for his safety at his Dearborn Heights home, but prosecutors say lethal force wasn't necessary. Wafer faces a second-degree murder charge.

His lawyer called the case unusual and is concerned about how it has played out in the court of public opinion. She wants a change of venue.

"Given the high media and taint in how the jury pool has been poisoned by arguments that aren't the facts in this case," said defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter.

The judge denied that motion, but what to ask jurors was a key part of the hearing.

"If you've heard anything about this case, what have you heard, and have you made up your mind already to the point where you cannot be fair? Those are the only three questions that we think are important," said prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark.

-- Renisha McBride

McBride's aunt said the family is not worried about finding jurors.

"You have a mind, you have eyes and you should know right from wrong. All I am going to say is the right decision will be made," said Bernita Spinks, McBride's aunt.

The police interrogation of Wafer and three 911 calls, including one made by Wafer, will be played during the trial. The defense said transcripts of that audio won't do him justice.

"So his demeanor, his emotions are critical, and if you admit a transcript you lose all of that," said Carpenter.

The judge disagreed.

"The transcripts will help the jury. They always ask for transcripts. I think it will help them in their deliberations," said Judge Dana Hathaway.

McBride's family said they are praying for a conviction.

"There's a phone. You even opened the door. You took the time to load the gun, so it's all right there," said Spinks.

The judge will hear more pretrial motions next week. The trial is set to begin on July 21.

Wafer's lawyers are arguing he shot the unarmed woman in self-defense. They want 200 people to be summoned for this case. Typically, for a trial such as this, between 40 to 65 people are questioned.

Finding 12 people who have not heard about this murder will be a challenge.

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