Michael Dunn convicted of attempted murder; hung jury on murder

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Michael Dunn

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida jury in the case of Michael Dunn found him guilty on four charges, including three for attempted second-degree murder, but they couldn’t reach a verdict on the most significant charge — first-degree murder in the death of Jordan Davis.

After the decisions in the “loud music” trial were read at about 7 p.m. Saturday in court, Judge Russell Healey — who moments before had said that the jury had reached a verdict on all counts — declared a mistrial on the murder count.

That possibility had floated around since 4:45 p.m. Saturday, when the 12 jurors sent a note saying they’d decided on four of the five counts that Dunn faces. But they hadn’t unanimously reached a verdict “on count 1 or any of the lesser included offenses related to it.”

Count 1 is first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Davis, who like the other teenagers in that SUV was black.

The fact that Dunn is white began a major talking point throughout the case, with some comparing the case to the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin about 120 miles south in Sanford, Florida.

Jurors could have decided not to convict Dunn on that charge but instead find him guilty on lesser charges such as manslaughter. Or they could have acquitted him altogether on this count.

With the hung jury, State Attorney Angela Corey said prosecutors would press for a new trial in Duval County on the murder charge.

“Justice for Jordan Davis is as important as it is for any victim,” Corey said.

Even without a final decision on that count — and pending defense appeals — Dunn appears set to face a lengthy prison term.

The jury convicted him on three counts — one for each of the other teens in the SUV — of attempted second-degree murder. Dunn was also found “guilty of shooting … as charged in the indictment,” according to the jury’s decision read out in court.

Prosecutor Erin Wolfson explained Saturday night that each attempted second-degree murder conviction carries a minimum sentence of at least 20 years. There’s also a 15-year sentence possible on the shooting conviction.

Earlier Saturday, Healey acknowledged that the jury of four white women, two black women, four white men, an Asian woman and a Hispanic man was “struggling, obviously.”

“But it’s not for want of trying to reconcile all of this,” he said then. “I think we’ve got some analytical people in there who are trying to do just that — trying to analyze this from every possible angle.”

As this decision became clear Saturday night — and the other guilty verdicts were read out — Dunn looked ahead solemnly, with a frown.

Lucia McBath said — even without a decision on the murder count tied to Davis, her son — her family is “so very happy to have just a little bit of closure.”

“It’s sad for Mr. Dunn that he will live the rest of his life in that sense of torment, and I will pray for him,” McBath said. “And I’ve asked my family to pray for him.”

Echoes of Trayvon Martin

It was November 23, 2012, when Michael Dunn pulled into a gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red SUV full of teenagers.

Loud music was coming from that car, and Dunn expressed his displeasure.

What came next is a subject of dispute. Clearly, there were words exchanged. And without doubt, Dunn ended up opening fire on the vehicle, killing Davis.

But did one of the teens flash a gun? Dunn says so, but prosecutors say that’s not true — pointing to the fact the teens were unarmed. And was the defendant acting in self-defense? Again, the two sides come to opposite conclusions.

Some have compared the Dunn case to the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, which, like the current trial, had racial overtones and claims of self-defense.

Martin’s own parents have said as much, claiming Davis’ killing is another reminder that in Florida, “racial profiling and stereotypes” may serve as the basis for illegitimate fear “and the shooting and killing of young teenagers.”

But Dunn’s defense attorney, Cory Strolla, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday that the Zimmerman and Dunn cases aren’t so similar.

There was a physical confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin, and police gave Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt about defending himself, Strolla said.

“My client did not wait to become that victim,” he said. “My client did not wait to either get assaulted by a weapon or have someone potentially pull a trigger,” he said.

Though a weapon was never found, Strolla maintains the youths could have had one. Dunn felt threatened and acted, he said.

“Now, does it sound irrational? Of course it sounds irrational. But have you ever been in that situation?” Strolla asked.

Given the attention and emotions tied to this case, a “comprehensive public safety plan” has been established ahead of a verdict, according to the Duval County joint information center handling the Dunn trial.

“All contingencies have been planned for,” the statement said. “We will not discuss the specifics of any security plan. We will continue to protect the rights of those who choose to peaceably demonstrate.”

Whatever the verdict, Davis’ parents, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, will never see their son again, they noted, adding, “We know that pain all too well. We walk with Jordan in defining his legacy to reflect our hopes by advancing love and tolerance in his memory, and continuing the fight against unjust gun laws.”

“Tomorrow is my boy’s 19th birthday,” his mother tweeted Saturday. “I pray we will celebrate not only him but a just and righteous verdict. Patiently we wait.”

31 comments

    • No B.S.

      Probably because those people in the hood get caught NEVER get off. The police never say “let’s hear your side of the story”, there’s no mass internet organization to support their defense team. Usually because everyone and their mothers assume the person is guilty.
      With white on black crime in America what’s clear with these last two cases is that there is a rush to sympathize with the one who pulled the trigger. That’s why the stories have ratings. You people love a good “it was self-defense!” story

      • Mr Hand

        No bs, they get off all the time because the hood folks refuse to work with whitie (police) to get anyone arrested. Work a few decades in W/S Moringside then get back with me. As a side note, another loss for Angela Corey…..how did he get her job with such poor skills? Race.

  • RaceBaiting101

    Everyone knows black on black crime doesn’t excite anyone or drive up ratings. Everything is racially motivated when someone else besides blacks are killing blacks.

  • FaithC

    Of course they bring up Trayvon Martin. This has nothing to do with that.

    The reason they may be finding it had to convict on first degree murder is because we have all had that annoying car next to us at one time or another, with the music so loud that it rattles things in our car. They are putting themselves in this mans place. Maybe if these kids had some respect for others around them this would have never happened.
    Maybe he thought they had a gun, maybe not. We will see what the jury comes up with.
    Before you start with the nasty comments, be honest with yourself…you all hate the car with the music so loud you can’t hear what is going on in your own car. These kids have total disrespect for anyone.

  • John

    The comments above don’t make a lot of sense to me. Does taking a life justify hating the noise coming out of someone’s car? We are talking about someone’s life here. At most the music will annoy you for 5 mins and then you are on your way but this kid’a life is gone for ever.

    • Learnthelaw

      John don’t waste your time trying to figure these people out. They live in their own sad little world. People like Faith C think they can hide their racisim with the way they word their comments. It’s just they can’t say what they are really thinking because it will get taken down. A favorite around here is to act like your hatred towards people that are born different than them is just an opinion. That their hate should just be accepted as a way of life. If you really want to read something stupid just wait until the genius that is frank sinner makes a comment.

  • dg (@dynamicabs)

    to compare with Zimmerman (Hispanic) is just sensationalizing. We know now Zimmerman has issues, not related to race but to anger and lack of control. you wont see that in print anywhere else!

  • Independocrat

    It’s funny how in these news stories, they always leave out race when when it’s a black on white crime. Apparently, that doesn’t work the other way around. It sickens me how obsessed the news media is with race.

    • Thug

      Sounds really good until he walks into a maximum security prison then will have no choice except rap music for the next 65 yrs.

  • get rich online

    definitely appreciate your site but you have got to examine the actual punctuational in a few of your posts. A lot of them are filled using punctuation troubles so i in locating the idea quite bothersome frankly even so I will definitely can come just as before once again.

  • mama

    As a mother of teenage boys who play their music loud I have to say you people make me sick. This is not only racial, this is about young men not feeling safe anywhere because it seems like it’s an open season on teenage boys. Why don’t you try to understand these kids not shoot them? Even as I am typing this I am enjoying wonderful noise of teenagers watching basketball game (my boys have friends over and all together 4 different races are here, and I am equally scared for each amd every one of those boys, because they are close to become endangered species thanks to Dunns and Zimmermans of this country. Oh, and all these kids are honor students and acomplished athletes, but who cares, right? Their age and/or skin color gives you right to kill them. And FaithC, please shut the hell up.

    • old codger

      How maybe parents should think about resisting their children with a degree of respect. You like the rest of the bandwagon are coming on about these innocent kids yet you never pause to think that maybe their behavior is instigative. To take a ‘ liberal’s’ standpoint were you there? Do you know?

      • dewey

        nope wasn’t there, just depending on accounts from the INVESTIGATION….but that doesn’t matter to you when the old white dude is still kicking and breathing

      • JT

        Oldfart, sorry those dang kids don’t respect their elders and your whiteness, but that does NOT give you the right to SHOOT THEM–well, at least not yet in NC. Why don’t you move to Florida? You’re old, ignorant, and racist–they love you down there, and you can shoot all the kids you want and the worst thing you’ll be found guilty of is attempted murder (which makes no sense–the attempt was successful, so how is this attempted murder?)

  • old codger

    Fact is I live in a gated community have two really nice vehicles a beautiful home two wonderful daughters. I’m set for live my daughters are set four life I really miss my side who died six years ago. One of my guilty little p pleasures however is ticking some of you off. Most of you wouldn’t last a day in the world I grew up on. Your posts make me laugh.

  • John

    Old codger….I’m pretty sure you live in a gated community. One of those where the gate is meant to keep you in and not people from coming into your community. By the way don’t worry about your buddy Michael Dunn, he is going to a gated community too. A little different from yours but Like you, he will be set for life too: no rent due, no grocery bills to worry about. Soon enough the guys in there will have him singing acapellas all night long he would be begging for a rap beat in the mornings.

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