After a two-week investigation, the prosecutor here charged a white suburban homeowner on Friday with second-degree murder in the killing of an unarmed young black woman. The prosecutor rejected the man’s assertion that he had been acting in self-defense when he opened his front door and fired a shotgun at the woman through a locked screen door, striking her in the face.
The man, Theodore Paul Wafer, who is white and an employee at the Wayne County Airport Authority, entered a not guilty plea during an arraignment on Friday. Mr. Wafer had told the police that he believed the woman was breaking into his home. The prosecutor, Kym Worthy, said that she found no evidence of an attempted break-in and that the woman, Renisha Marie McBride, 19, had been knocking on the door.
The shooting has ignited an anguished conversation in this largely black city and beyond about why another unarmed black person has been killed and whether the legal system would call anyone to account. It was the third high-profile, racially charged case this year, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the recent police shooting of Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina after he sought help following a car accident.
Ms. Worthy, who is the Wayne County prosecutor and who herself is black, said, “Race is not relevant.” She based her decision “on the facts and the evidence” and not on public opinion or mounting comparisons to other cases, she said.
This is self defense.