Slain Michigan teenager had swollen hands from pounding on door: witness

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 30, 2014 5:48 PM

By Aaron Foley

DETROIT (Reuters) - An independent medical examiner testified on Thursday that a black teenager's hands were swollen from pounding on the door of a white suburban Detroit man's home, which could support the man's claim that he thought the teenager was trying to break in.

The testimony came during the trial of Theodore Wafer, 55, who told Dearborn Heights police that he was in fear for his life when his shotgun went off accidentally, blasting through his screen door and killing 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch in November.

Wafer is charged with second-degree murder in the racially charged case and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Dr. Werner Spitz, a veteran forensic pathologist testifying for the defense, said that photos from the crime scene indicated swelling of McBride's hands.

"A blunt impact to the hands causes swelling," said Spitz, who did not conduct McBride's autopsy but reviewed case reports.

Dr. Kilak Kesha, the Wayne County medical examiner who conducted McBride's autopsy, had testified Wednesday that he believed there had been no need to examine the teenager's hands.

The killing of McBride, who had been unarmed, has sparked protests in Dearborn Heights and comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of black unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The prosecution rested its case on Wednesday.

The trial will resume on Monday, Aug. 4.

(Reporting by Aaron Foley; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Eric Beech and Sandra Maler)