Guilty on four counts in ‘loud music murder trial’

Posted: May 30, 2014 in News

On Saturday evening, in a ruling that concluded six days of testimonies and four days of deliberations, a 12-member sequestered jury in Jacksonville, Fla., announced a guilty verdict on charges stemming from Michael Dunn’s admitted murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

The jury convicted Dunn on three counts of second-degree attempted murder for exiting his vehicle and shooting into a parked Dodge Durango occupied by four unarmed Black teenagers who were listening to music. He was also found “guilty of shooting … as charged in the indictment” for continuing to fire at the SUV as it drove away.

Prosecutors allege that Dunn had enough time to reflect before acting, which is why Dunn received the premeditated murder charge.

“It was too long before victims’ voices were heard,” determined Angela Corey, the state special prosecutor who also presented last year’s Trayvon Martin case. “Justice for Jordan Davis is as important as it is for any of our other victims.”

The jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge, disagreeing on whether Dunn had malicious intent or acted in self-defense. They also failed to agree on lesser charges that were automatically associated with charges of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter.

“We are so grateful for the truth. It’s a long, long road, and we’re so very happy to have just a little bit of closure,” expressed Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath. “It’s sad for Mr. Dunn that he will live the rest of his life with that sense of torment, and I will pray for him.”

Ron Davis, Jordan’s father, added: “The whole world is looking at all of us here in Jacksonville.”

Some outside the courthouse protested the absence of a murder conviction and called for Corey’s removal.

“The verdict won’t sit well with the Black community in Jacksonville,” said Ken Jefferson, vice president for local group Operation Save Our Sons. “There is a feeling of being able to shoot Black people and get away with it, particularly after the Zimmerman case.”

Despite the hung jury and pending appeals, Dunn may never see the streets again. Prosecutor Erin Wolfson explained that under Florida law, sentences for crimes committed with guns must run consecutively. Therefore, each second-degree attempted murder conviction carries a 20-year minimum sentence, totaling 60 years. Plus, the other conviction adds another 15 years.

“At 47 years old, that’s a life sentence, regardless of count one,” Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, conceded, vowing to appeal. Strolla said his client was “in disbelief” after the verdict. “Even as he sat next to me, he asked, ‘How is this happening?’ … It has not set in. I don’t think it will set in anytime soon,” Strolla said.

Prosecutors established that on the evening of Nov. 23, 2012, the 47-year-old, after pulling up beside the Durango in the parking lot, had not shot in self-defense as claimed, but rather because the teen was blasting that “rap crap” and “thug music”—as his fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, testified—refused to lower it and then cussed at him.

One witness recalled hearing Dunn angrily respond, “You’re not going to talk to me that way,” prior to pulling his pistol from the glove compartment.

In a surprising move, Rouer nervously confessed last weekend that Dunn, in the day they spent together before his arrest, never mentioned anything about a shotgun. Video surveillance shows her inside the convenience store as shots rang out.

Dunn told jurors on Tuesday that the high-schooler had threatened to kill him, pointed a shotgun from the SUV’s backseat and was exiting the vehicle, which caused him to retrieve his 9mm handgun and unleash 10 shots into the Durango, hitting Davis three times in the process.

Prosecutors contend that he fabricated this tale to bolster his self-defense claim. No weapons were found, and witnesses never reported seeing one. The teenagers testified that none of them had guns, which is why nobody retaliated. The district attorney portrayed the middle-aged Caucasian as feeling threatened because he perceived them as “gangsters.”

Davis had no criminal record, nor any alcohol or drugs in his system when he was murdered.

Prosecutors challenged what happened next: Dunn and Rouer fled the scene and drove 40 miles to St. Augustine, Fla., where he walked his dog, ordered pizza, then drank rum and Coke … “stunned and horrified, [shocked how] things escalated the way they did over a common courtesy.” He never called police. He only came into contact with the cops at his Satellite Beach, Fla., home, 130 miles south of St. Augustine, as he was apprehended.

“Justice has been served, but it’s not complete,” read a statement by the mother of Leland Brunson, one of the four teens.

Legal analysts suggest the defense had a relatively weak case, so much so they never attempted to apply the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. Also, to back his claim, Dunn was forced to testify, which opened him up to cross-examination, where his credibility was shattered.

“We have to make a decision that we have to really begin to look seriously at our legal system, at the application of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law and some of the other dynamics that created the conditions and climate that brought about this,” stated Bishop John Guns of St. Paul Church. “Jordan Davis will not die in vain.”

Throughout the trial, prosecutors asked jurors to use “common sense” when considering Dunn’s behavior following the shooting, which they said did not match the actions of a man who had fired in self-defense.

The verdict came on the eve of what would have been Jordan’s 19th birthday. Corey said, “We don’t back off trying to retry [on the murder charge]. We intend to fully push for a trial right here in Jacksonville.”

In a statement issued before the verdict on Saturday, Martin’s parents said the killing is “yet another reminder that in Florida, racial profiling and stereotypes” may serve as the basis for

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