DETROIT (AP) — A U.S. man faces charges of murder and manslaughter after a 19-year-old black woman was fatally shot in the face just outside his home while apparently seeking help after a car crash.
The case has drawn national attention and calls for a thorough investigation from civil rights groups that say race was a factor.
Prosecutors in Detroit on Friday said 54-year-old Theodore P. Wafer faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Renisha McBride on Nov. 2.
Police say they believe she was involved in a car accident nearby, and family members say she likely approached Wafer’s home for help.
Prosecutors insisted that race was not relevant.
McBride’s death has been compared to that of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen shot dead by a suspicious neighbor in Florida in 2012. That case led to debate over so-called stand your ground laws that protect gun owners who claim to shoot in self-defense in at least 23 states, including Michigan.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must show that his or her life was in danger.
Prosecutors said evidence showed McBride knocked on the locked screen door and that there was no evidence of forced entry. The interior front door was open, and Wafer fired through “the closed and locked screen door,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
“We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense,” she added.
Wafer was expected to surrender to authorities ahead of arraignment Friday afternoon.
The Associated Press tried to leave a message for Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, but her voicemail was full. Carpenter told The Detroit News earlier this week that Wafer was awakened by what sounded like “a person or persons” trying to get into his home.
Carpenter told the newspaper that the shooting was justified, and that she and Wafer “recognize it’s a tragedy and a 19-year-old woman died.”
“Let’s wait and not prejudice,” she said.
A toxicology report released Thursday showed McBride had alcohol and marijuana in her system. The report said McBride’s blood alcohol content was about 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for driving.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.