Jury selection starts for Michigan man accused of killing black teen

Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:32pm EDT

1 of 2. Theodore Wafer sits in the back of the court room before his arraignment in Detroit, Michigan in this file photo taken January 15, 2014, for the November 2, 2013 shooting death of Renisha McBride.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook/Files

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(Reuters) - Jury selection began on Monday for a white suburban Detroit homeowner charged with killing a black teenager with a shotgun blast to the face after she knocked on his door seeking help early one November morning.

Theodore Wafer, 55, faces a second-degree murder charge and up to life in prison for the killing of Renisha McBride, 19, on his front porch.

The racially charged case has sparked protests in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, and comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Defense attorneys told a preliminary investigation in November that Wafer, an airport maintenance worker who cares for his elderly mother, feared for his life when the fatal shooting occurred.

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 for prosecutors at the preliminary examination.

A woman who reported the crash testified, however, that McBride appeared confused and injured, not combative.

Wafer called 911 after the shooting and police have said he admitted firing the fatal shot but said it was an accident.

Jury selection is expected to continue on Tuesday.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Tom Brown and Eric Walsh)

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