Jury Finds Michael Dunn Guilty of Attempted Murder, Mistrial Declared on Murder Charge

Prosecutors plan to retry Dunn for murder.

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A jury found Michael Dunn guilty of second-degree murder for opening fire into a vehicle containing four teenagers in November 2012, but was unable to agree on a verdict for the first-degree murder charge he received for fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis

On Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn got into a heated verbal exchange with Davis and his three friends—Tevin ThompsonLeland Brunson and Tommie Stornes—in a Jacksonville, Fla. gas station parking lot over the volume of the music coming from the teenager's vehicle. Dunn, 47, fired several times into the red Dodge Durango; three of the bullets struck Davis in his liver and aorta. He died shortly after at a local hospital.

Dunn continued to discharge his weapon, even as the teenagers fled the parking lot in their vehicle. He insisted that he acted in self-defense, alleging that Davis pointed a shotgun at him from the window of the vehicle. No weapons were found inside of the Durango. However, under Florida's highly-controversial Stand Your Ground law, Dunn only needed to think that he saw a weapon to protect himself with deadly force.

Though the jury came to an accord on the attempted murder charges associated with the three other boys in the vehicle, Duval County Judge Russell L. Healey was forced to declare a mistrial on the first-degree murder charge that applied to Davis because the jury failed to reach agreement. Furthermore, they were unable to agree on lesser charges of second-and-third degree murder and manslaughter. 

Prosecutors attacked Dunn's self-defense claims, arguing that Dunn was furious because the teenagers refused to turn down their music—which Dunn's girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, testified that he referred to as "thug music"—and because Davis began to argue with him. 

Instead of calling authorities after the incident, Dunn and Rouer returned to the hotel they were staying at. Rouer testified that Dunn ordered a pizza and made them both rum and Cokes at the hotel—hardly the actions of a man remorseful about what he had just done.

Dunn's attorney, Corey Strolla, claimed that the charges levied against his client were an attempt at retribution by prosecutors following the state's failure to convict George Zimmerman last July—a case where state attorney Angela Corey was the special prosecutor. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder for the Feb. 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

According to the New York Times, Corey announced plans to retry Dunn for first-degree murder. In addition, Corey said she hoped the jury would articulate why they were unable to reach a verdict, as this insight would greatly aid the prosecution. 

The Times adds that Davis' parents, Lucia McBath and Ron Davis, expressed gratitude over the attempted murder conviction and await Dunn's retrial. Following the verdict, the family delivered a harrowing statement about the value of young black lives.

"[Jordan] was a good kid. It wasn’t allowed to be said in the court room, but we’ll say it. He was a good kid," Ron Davis said. "There are a lot of good kids out there. …They should have a voice. They shouldn’t have to live in fear…that if they get shot, it’s just collateral damage. …We do not accept a law that would allow collateral damage to our family members. …We expect the law to be behind us, and protect us. That’s what I wanted the law to do—to protect Jordan as we protected Jordan."

Dunn is expected to be sentenced in March. He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison. 

[via New York Times and Salon]

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