Expert testimony on Michigan porch shooting sheds light on gun

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 29, 2014 6:53 PM

By Aaron Foley

DETROIT (Reuters) - A state firearms expert gave testimony on Tuesday that potentially challenged a statement by a white suburban Detroit homeowner that he shot dead a black teenager when his shotgun accidentally discharged.

Theodore Wafer, 55, has been charged with second degree murder for shooting Renisha McBride, 19, on the porch of his Dearborn Heights home after she knocked on the door seeking help one morning last November. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Wafer told police after the shooting that he believed McBride was breaking into his home and his shotgun went off accidentally, blasting through his screen door.

Shawn Kolonich, a forensic firearms expert for the Michigan State Police, told a court in Detroit he had tested Wafer's Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and it worked properly.

"I didn't notice any abnormality with the gun," said Kolonich. He said the shotgun's safety has to be released and a sliding mechanism enabled to fire the weapon.

Testimony began last week in the racially charged case, which has sparked protests in Dearborn Heights and comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

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 earlier for prosecutors.

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Attorneys for Wafer on Tuesday played audio from the squad cars of Dearborn Heights officers, who were heard speculating that McBride had a $100 bill on her person and "could have been a prostitute" demanding more money from Wafer.

A police detective on Tuesday testified that McBride had $56 in cash on hand.

(Reporting by Aaron Foley in Detroit; editing by Mary Wisniewski and Brendan O'Brien)