A suburban Detroit man was sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 17 years in prison for the fatal shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old woman on his porch last November. Theodore Wafer, 55, apologized to Renisha McBride's family before his sentence was handed down. "From my fear, I caused the loss of a life that was too young to leave this world. And for that, I carry that guilt and sorrow forever," Wafer said.
Wafer's defense attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, lost her composure before he spoke, tearfully telling the judge that Wafer "shows more remorse than any client I have ever seen" and deserved to be sentenced within the guidelines of a manslaughter conviction, despite the fact that he was found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and a weapons felony firearm charge last month. Prosecutors had recommended at least 17 years in prison, including two years for unlawful use of a gun, and prosecutor Patrick Muscat called the sentence "fair and just."
Wafer killed McBride with a shotgun on Nov. 2, 2013, when she knocked on his Dearborn Heights door after getting into a car accident. He said he shot McBride, who had been drinking prior to her accident, because he feared for his life when he heard loud banging on his door very early in the morning. "I am confident that if you weren't going to prison today, you would never commit another crime," Judge Dana Margaret Hathaway told Wafer. "I fully recognize that you did not bring these circumstances to your doorstep. They arrived there. But once you did, you made the choices that brought you here today."
Wafer, dressed in a gray suit and striped tie, clasped his hands together and listened attentively on Wednesday as he sat in the courtroom packed with friends and family of McBride. After the sentencing, McBride's sister, Jasmine, told NBC News, "I'm very happy. I believe justice was served and I believe my sister can rest peacefully now." McBride's father, Walter Simmons, agreed: "It was a great decision. He got what he deserved."
His defense attorney says he plans to appeal.
—Elizabeth Chuck and Scott Newell
First published September 2 2014, 11:23 PM