A crying Theodore Wafer took the stand today to tell his side of the story of what happened the night he fatally shot Renisha McBride on his porch outside his suburban Detroit home.
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"It's devastating," Wafer tearfully told the jury. "She had her life in front of her. I took that from her."
When asked if he was afraid for his life, Wafer replied, "Yes."
Defense attorneys had previously refused to say whether Wafer would testify at his murder trial. Wafer took the stand this afternoon on the seventh day of testimony at his second-degree murder trial.
Wafer, 55, will have to convince the jury that he was in fear for his life when McBride, 19, drunkenly showed up on his porch in Dearborn Heights during the early morning of Nov. 2, 2013. McBride, who is black, was shot in the face, falling on her back, with her feet facing Wafer's door, prosecutors said.
"I needed to find out what was going on," he said. "I didn't want to cower in my house, I didn't want to be a victim."
Wafer, who is unmarried and does not have children, testified that he always entered through the side door of his house and did not keep his front porch well-lit.
He told the court he was aware of crime in his neighborhood and has found liquor bottles, beer bottles and syringes on his property.
Wafer sad he purchased a shotgun around 2008 because he "thought it was time to have some kind of security that I could afford."
"I heard it was a good home defense weapon," he said of his purchase.
While Wafer showed emotion on the stand, when asked by the prosecution if he cried the night McBride died, he replied that he did not.
Last week, Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist called by the defense, testified that he believed McBride had a concussion from the car crash. He added that McBride's blood alcohol level would have caused her to experience a loss of judgment.
Also of interest to Spitz was an apparent laceration on McBride's hand. He told the jury that she may have injured it from pounding on Wafer's door. The testimony contradicted that of the medical examiner who said he did not observe anything out of the ordinary on McBride's hand during the autopsy.
Dr. Kilak Kesha, an assistant medical examiner from Wayne County, described McBride's brain as "pulpified" and said the bullet wound the teen suffered proved catastrophic. He also told the jury that he wasn't able to discern any other injuries.
Whether Wafer's screen door was torn from a break-in attempt or if it was damaged from the bullets that Wafer fired at McBride will be a key question in the case.
Wafer, who is white, told police he didn't know his gun was loaded and said he shot the unarmed teen by accident, according to a recording played to jurors.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.