By Jueseppi B.
From Reuters News Agency:
Florida jury starts deliberations in loud rap murder trial
BY SUSAN COOPER EASTMAN
(Reuters) – A middle-aged software engineer opened fire on a black teenager because he felt disrespected when the 17-year-old refused to turn down the rap music blaring from his car, a prosecutor told a Florida jury in closing arguments on Wednesday.
Defense attorneys countered, saying Michael Dunn, 47, who is white, acted in self-defense when he shot Jordan Davis and was justified in using deadly force.
The trial, which has drawn international attention because of racial overtones and claims of self-defense, was put in the hands of a jury on Wednesday.
Davis was out on the town with friends when the argument broke out. Prosecutors said Davis used foul language when confronting Dunn, but that he was unarmed and never posed a physical threat.
“Jordan Davis didn’t have a weapon. He had a big mouth. That man wasn’t going to stand for it, and it cost Jordan Davis his life,” Assistant State Attorney John Guy said, wrapping up the prosecution’s case at the end of a week-long trial.
“This case is not about self-defense. It’s about self-denial,” he added.
The case has drawn comparisons to the trial of George Zimmerman, the former central Florida neighborhood watchman who was acquitted last year of murder after saying he shot a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in self-defense during a struggle.
Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the November 2012 shooting of Jordan Davis. Dunn also faces three charges of attempted murder for firing 10 shots at four teens in the SUV parked in a Jacksonville gas station.
Prosecutors said Dunn overreacted in anger when Davis hurled expletives at him and refused to lower the volume.
“This defendant was disrespected by a 17-year-old teenager. He was not happy with his (Davis’s) response,” said another Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson who delivered the closing argument.
She quoted a witness who overheard Dunn say: “You are not going to talk to me that way” as the altercation escalated.
Then Dunn “took it upon himself to silence Jordan Davis forever,” Wolfson said.
If found guilty, Dunn faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty.
The verdict in the case remains in doubt, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, a former assistant U.S. attorney, tweeted on Tuesday night. “Especially in Florida, given the breadth of the stand your ground law and self-defense culture,” she said.
Deliberating the case is a jury of 8 whites, 2 blacks, one Asian and one Hispanic.
Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, said the state had failed to prove its case, pointing to a lack of conclusive forensic evidence about where Davis was when he was shot.
“Michael Dunn was in a place where he had a right to be, asking for a common courtesy. He had no duty to retreat. He had a right to meet force with force, including deadly force,” said Strolla. “He’s had that gun for 20 years and he has never fired it once.”
Dunn took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday and told the jury he started shooting in a state of panic after the exchange of words grew more heated and he thought he saw the barrel of a gun in the back window as Davis started to get out of the car.
Police said they found no weapon in the teens’ SUV after the shooting.
“Michael Dunn doesn’t get to just assume Jordan Davis had a gun and … was going to shoot him,” said Wolfson. “Self-defense does not let you assume.”
The prosecution sought to expose inconsistencies in Dunn’s version of the incident.
The jury was reminded of dramatic testimony by Dunn’s fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, who told the court that after the shooting Dunn never mentioned seeing a gun in the teens’ car.
Medical evidence presented in court also showed that Davis died inside the car in a defensive posture.
Dunn’s description of some of the expletives used in the altercation varied in court from a previous recorded account he gave to police.
In his closing argument, Strolla said the teens could have disposed of a weapon after they left the gas station.
To illustrate his point, Strolla stood mute in front of the jury for three minutes, the time the Durango was gone before returning to the gas station to get help.
Strolla criticized investigators for failing to secure the entire gas station plaza as a crime scene or search for a weapon that night.
“They knew they messed up,” Strolla said.
(Writing by David Adams and Barbara Liston; Editing by Ken Wills, Gunna Dickson and Leslie Adler)
Thank you Reuters News Agency.
The thing one must not forget about this trial is the young boys in the Durango at that gas station, are not on trial for murder. Michael Dunn is.
From Weary Traveler Musings:
Michael Dunn — Strolla called Dunn to the witness standonce court convened. Under direct, Dunn was docile, mild-mannered, and weak. Strolla asked Dunn to give biographical details about his life and asked if Dunn had recollection of the week of Jordan Davis’ homicide.
Dunn told the jury that he was in Jacksonville to go to Chris Dunn’s wedding. Charlie the dog was a primary focus of the early part of direct questioning. Apparently Dunn & Rouer researched pet-friendly accommodations and picked a hotel further away from the wedding venue to accommodate Charlie, a 7-month-old puppy. Rouer and Dunn have been an item for 3.5 years, moving into the same dwelling six months into the courtship. Despite ending the marriage with Chris Dunn’s mother amicable, Rouer was a bit apprehensive about going to Chris Dunn’s wedding.
She had not known Chris Dunn and only viewed pictures of him via Facebook. Dunn concedes that Rouer’s assessment of how many drinks he had at Chris Dunn’s wedding was accurate: 3 or 4 drinks. Rouer didn’t eat at the wedding and they didn’t serve white wine, hence the reason for going to the Gate gas station.
Dunn & Rouer left Chris Dunn’s wedding because of Charlie. Rouer wanted to drink white wine and chips. Upon pulling into the Gate gas station, Dunn parked next to the red Durango because he wanted to be closer to the door. The “base” of the music coming from the red Durango was “ridiculously loud” after Rouer exited the vehicle to enter the store. Dunn had asked people in the past to turn down their music and they “happily” agreed to his request.
What Tevin Thompson’s told the jury was quasi-accurate but Dunn was mumbling it to himself, not talking to the teens in the red Durango. The guy in the front passenger’s seat, Tevin, turned down the music after Dunn asked and Dunn thanked him. Dunn admitted to having to roll down his window to tell the guys to turn down the music.
Michael Dunn is not qualified to testify to what the victim, Jordan Davis, supposedly said. So I will make it abundantly clear that these are Dunn’s words being assigned to Jordan Davis. Take them with a grain of salt as Dunn has every reason to lie, omit, or embellish to escape spending his natural born life in prison.
Dunn claims Jordan Davis was “mean spirited” and said “fuck that.” Dunn claims to have heard Jordan Davis say inaudible “something something” at first and then “cracker.” After that, Dunn told the jury that Jordan Davis looked at him and said the following: “I should kill that motherfucker.” Tommie Strones exited the Gate and entered the vehicle in the driver’s seat.
Dunn had to roll down his window to ask if they were threatening his life. Dunn told the jury Jordan Davis reached down and then slammed something against the red Durango door. Strolla interrupts and switches gears, asking Dunn about his familiarity with weapons. Dunn is familiar with them because of his father taking him shooting as a youngster. Strolla continues asking about the Gate gas station parking lot. Dunn told the jury that Jordan Davis said “Yes, I’m going to fucking kill you” in Dunn’s direction.
Then Jordan Davis supposedly showed 4 inches of a shotgun barrel. Dunn told the jury “I was in fear of my life.” Michael Dunn weeps when talking about Rhounda Rouer and Charlie. “After the continued threat of ‘you’re dead, bitch,’ a young man gets out and says ‘this shit is going down now’.”That young man was supposedly Jordan Davis. Dunn told the jury the following: “My life was in imminent danger.” Jordan Davis supposed gets out and screams “This shit’s going down now, bitch!” It was at this point that Dunn told the jury he reached for his weapon and said: “You’re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch!” Strolla asked if Dunn has responsible habits with firearms and he affirms.
Dunn had to lean forward, bounce back, then grabbed his gun. He grabbed gun & holster and “aimed at my attacker.” Despite saying “You’re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch,” Dunn told the jury he had no malice intent, but his vocal inflection did change. Dunn suffered a hand injury which required him to hold the gun with two hands as he showed the jury. According to Dunn, the in-flight Durango didn’t “register” to him so he continued to fire.
Michael Dunn told the jury he was scared for his life and Rouer’s life being put in danger. Dunn continued to shoot because he was worried about what he called a “blind fire spot” which he told Strolla was in essence return fire. He also said he fired at the fleeing Durango as to “keep their heads down.”
Rouer exits the Gate and he screams at her, “Get in the car, we gotta go.” Dunn told the jury he was in a panic so he threw the holster at his feet before firing. Dunn continued to refer to Jordan Davis as “my attacker.” Dunn repeats the phrase he said the night of the homicide: “You’re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch.” Strolla asked Michael Dunn if anyone in the red Durango tried to “deescalate” and he told the jury they didn’t. Upon prodding, Dunn said “I tried to get out the fact” but he was too anxious to mention to Rouer that he was threatened with a weapon from the occupants’ in the red Durango.
At the hotel, Rouer ran in, Dun secured his weapon. Inside the hotel, Dunn was “stoic” for Rouer but he concedes he’s “more emotional now” on the witness stand. Dunn told Rouer they weren’t in any trouble save for the “local gangsters.” Because Rouer was emotionally spent, Dunn told her to get pizza.
After Strolla’s questions, Dunn’s answer imply that if he wanted to he could have. He said he has a valid passport and a valid aviation ID. Rouer was aggressive in demanding the couple return to their condo. At the condo, Strolla places emphasis on how transparent Dunn was. Detective Marc Musser called Dunn and told him he had five minutes before Brevard County’s finest was at his door.
Thank you Weary Traveler Musings.