DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man who fatally shot a young woman on his porch will get a new sentencing hearing after the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously threw out part of his conviction.
The court said Ted Wafer’s constitutional rights were violated when a jury was allowed to convict him of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 death of Renisha McBride.
“We are aware of no cases in this state in which defendants were convicted of and received punishments for both second-degree murder and statutory involuntary manslaughter on the basis of a single killing,” Justice David Viviano wrote.
It’s an important result for Wafer because his sentencing guidelines for murder were enhanced by the manslaughter conviction. He has served nearly eight years of a minimum prison sentence of 17 years.
The case will return to Wayne County court.
Wafer, now 63, opened his front door in Dearborn Heights and shot McBride, 19, through a screen door before dawn. He said he was awakened by pounding and feared for his life, though he didn’t call 911 first. A jury rejected his self-defense claim.
Prosecutors speculated that McBride, who had crashed her car hours earlier, might have been confused when she arrived on Wafer’s porch.
Wafer is white and McBride was Black; some people wondered in the aftermath of the shooting whether race was a factor, likening it to the 2012 shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. But race was hardly mentioned at trial.