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Another shooting may test Florida's 'stand your ground' law

MIAMI — In what could become another test of Florida's broad self-defense law, a software developer charged with killing a Jacksonville teenager said he reached for his gun and fired eight rounds only after he was threatened with a shotgun.

The suspect, Michael Dunn, 45, of Satellite Beach, was arrested Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder.

Dunn told his lawyer that the victim, Jordan Davis, 17, who was parked at a convenience store in Jacksonville on Friday night with three other teenagers, pointed a shotgun at him through a partly rolled-down window, threatened to kill him and began to open the door. The shooting occurred after a dispute over loud music coming from the teenagers' sport utility vehicle.

Davis, a junior at a Jacksonville high school who had moved from Georgia two years ago to live with his father, died after being shot twice.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said officers had not found a shotgun in the car.

Dunn and his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, fled the convenience store in his Volkswagen Jetta after the teenagers left because he was afraid they would return, his lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, said. He did not call the authorities; the police arrested him the next day, finding him because a witness noted his license plate number.

The case has drawn parallels to the Trayvon Martin shooting because of the age and race of the victim, the fact that no weapon associated with the victim has been found, and Dunn's self-defense claim. Lemonidis is considering using the state's "stand your ground" law, which allows people who fear for their lives to retaliate with lethal force, as a defense.

But she said the shooting bore no resemblance to the case of George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the death of Martin.

"There is no racial motivation here whatsoever," Lemonidis said. "He would have never, ever, in a million years pulled a gun if his life was not threatened. He saw a shotgun, and 4 inches of the barrel, and the guy said to him, 'This is going down now' and popped the door open."

She said the teens could have thrown the shotgun away.

Ron Davis, Davis' father, told CNN that his son, who recently got a job at McDonald's, did not own guns and that the teenagers in the car had tried to flee when they saw Dunn's gun. "He did something that there was no defense for," Davis said of Dunn.

The victim's mother, Lucia McBath, said Davis had hoped to join the military. She said she did not view the shooting as a racial crime, despite the fact that her son is black and the suspect is white.

Dunn, a gun collector who has a pilot's license, was in Jacksonville for his son's wedding last weekend. He had one drink at the reception and a glass of champagne before he left, his lawyer said. When he and Rouer stopped at the store for wine to take to the hotel, the teens were blasting music. He asked them to turn it down. At first they did, Lemonidis said. But then they turned the volume back up and began cursing him.

When he saw the shotgun and heard the threat, Dunn reached into his glove compartment, unholstered his Taurus 9mm gun and fired two rounds into the back seat, and then two more, his lawyer said. As the car with the teens left, he feared they would try to shoot back, so he fired four more shots.

He returned to the hotel, believing no one had been hurt. But the next morning, after learning a teenager had been killed, Dunn decided to turn himself in, but in Satellite Beach, about 170 miles away, where his neighbor has ties to law enforcement, Lemonidis said. He went to the neighbor's home, and the police, already on their way, arrived to arrest him.

Another shooting may test Florida's 'stand your ground' law 11/29/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:12pm]
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