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Michigan prosecutors consider charges in Renisha McBride shooting

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Michigan prosecutors were weighing Tuesday whether to charge a homeowner in the killing of a woman on his porch in a case that has raised comparisons to the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin last year.

Renisha McBride, 19, was killed in Dearborn Heights on Nov. 2 when she sought help after a car accident, her family said. The results of an autopsy, released Monday, showed she died of a shotgun blast to the face.

Maria Miller, a prosecutor's spokeswoman, said her office was awaiting material from the Dearborn Heights Police Department before deciding whether to charge the man, whose name has not been released. It is not known when prosecutors will finish the review.

"The Wayne County prosecutor's office is waiting for several items relating to the investigation from the Dearborn Heights Police Department at this time. We have begun the warrant review process. News will be released when a charging decision has been made," Miller said.

The homeowner's lawyer said he acted properly.

Since the shooting, high-profile civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, and protesters have called for an investigation, likening the incident to the February 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. McBride was black and the homeowner is white. A jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman, who is of white and Latino heritage, of murder in the death of Martin, who was black. That case became a national issue after Sharpton and others protested authorities' initial refusal to charge Zimmerman.

The autopsy report provides new details on McBride's shooting, but leaves some key questions unanswered. For example, it confirms she was shot in the face, supporting the idea that she was facing the homeowner. But the autopsy does not specify the distance from which the weapon was fired.

"There was an entrance shotgun wound to the face, with no evidence of close-range discharge of a firearm noted on the skin surrounding this wound," reads the report by Assistant Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha, who ruled McBride's death a homicide. "The wound track was from front to back and from right to left."

According to McBride's family and supporters, she went looking for help after a car accident in the early hours on Nov. 2. She eventually went to the porch of a house in Dearborn Heights, where she was shot. Police have confirmed that McBride was shot on the porch but have not released details.

Cheryl Carpenter, the homeowner's lawyer, has said he was awakened about 4 a.m. by what sounded like "a person or persons" trying to enter his home. She said the shooting was justified.

"Let's wait and not prejudice" the case, Carpenter said last week. "Nobody, including the police, the prosecutor or the public, has all the information yet."

michael.muskal@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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