By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — The man accused of shooting and killing a woman on his front porch last November has been granted a new judge and had the start of his trial delayed by over a month.
A new judge for the case was approved by Judge Timothy Kenny, Chief Judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court’s Criminal Division, who ruled April 25 that Judge Qiana Lillard would not preside over the trial of Theodore Wafer due to her connection with a member of the prosecution.
Wafer is charged with second degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm for his role in the shooting death of Renisha McBride on his front porch in the 16800 block of Outer Drive about 4:40 a.m. Nov. 2.
Kenny ruled a new judge judge would be drawn blindly for the case because Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Assistant Prosecutor Terry Anderson had been listed as part of Lillard’s campaign committee and had sold tickets to a fundraiser on her behalf.
The request for a new presiding judge had been made earlier in April by Cheryl Carpenter, thelead attorney for Wafer.
According to court documents, Carpenter said there was an “appearance of bias” with having Lillard preside over the case because she is Facebook friends with members of the Prosecutor’s Office and has personal ties with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
The Prosecutor’s Office had until May 2 to appeal Kenny’s decision, but Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Communications Director Maria Miller said that no appeal would be made.
After the blind draw the case went to Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway, who took over on the bench immediately and last Wednesday scheduled a final conference for June 20 and a jury trial date of July 21. The trial was originally scheduled to start June 2.
Wafer is facing possible penalties of any term of years up to life in prison for the second degree murder charge, up to 15 years for the manslaughter charge and two years for the felony firearm charge.
Prior to the shooting, McBride was involved in a single-car crash at 1 a.m. about six blocks away on Bramell Street in Detroit.
What occurred during the time between the crash and the shooting has not been released by the Police Department or the Prosecutor’s Office, though members of McBride’s family have said they believe she was walking around looking for help because her cell phone battery had died.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)