(Reuters) - A white suburban Detroit homeowner's shooting of a black teenager who had been knocking on his door was "unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable," a prosecutor told jurors at the start of the homeowner's murder trial on Wednesday.
Theodore Wafer, 55, shot Renisha McBride after she knocked on the door seeking help an early morning in November. Wafer faces a second-degree murder charge and up to life in prison. “Because of what he did that night, a 19-year-old girl is dead on a porch in Dearborn Heights,” said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark, according to video of the trial broadcast on the Detroit Free Press website.
"His actions that night were unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable," she said.
But Wafer's defense attorney said that the airport maintenance worker who cares for his elderly mother was in fear for his life after he heard what he thought was more than one person banging violently at his front and side doors.
Wafer told police after the shooting that he believed McBride was breaking into his home and that his shotgun went off accidentally, blasting through a closed screen door.
Opening statements and testimony began on Wednesday in the racially charged case, which has sparked protests in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, and comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Hagaman-Clark on Wednesday played jurors a 911 call Wafer made after shooting McBride.
On the call, Wafer can be heard telling the dispatcher, "Uh yes, I just shot somebody on my front porch with a shotgun, banging on my door," and then he said "thank you" and hung up when the dispatcher asked what city he was in.
Wafer's defense attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, said the banging was so violent that the screen broke, and Wafer couldn't find his cell phone to call police.
"It's 4:30 at night, he's just woken up, his heart is coming out of his chest," Carpenter said, describing Wafer's fear.
McBride's best friend, Amber Jenkins, testified on Wednesday that the evening before the shooting, they had shared three marijuana cigarettes and played a drinking game.
McBride had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit for driving in Michigan when she died and had crashed a car hours before, according to witnesses who testified for prosecutors at a preliminary examination.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech)