Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Jury to deliberate a fourth day in Jacksonville loud music killing trial

JACKSONVILLE — Jurors deciding the fate of a Florida man charged with fatally shooting a teen after an argument over loud music asked a judge Friday whether they can reach a verdict on some charges but not others.

The 12 jurors in the trial of Michael Dunn asked their question as they approached their 20th hour of deliberations over three days.

Judge Russell Healey told them the answer is yes.

"The law allows that," Healey said.

The sequestered jurors couldn't reach a verdict Friday evening, despite deliberating for 22 hours, starting Wednesday. They went back to their hotel and planned to return to the courthouse this morning.

Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012. Dunn claims he shot the Marietta, Ga., teen in self-defense. But prosecutors told jurors that Dunn shot the teen because he felt disrespected by Davis during an argument over loud music.

The Dunn trial is the latest Florida case to raise questions about self-defense and race. Dunn is white; Davis was black.

Besides first-degree murder, Dunn is charged with three counts of attempted murder, since there were three friends of Davis' in the car that Dunn shot into, and also a single count of shooting a firearm at a vehicle.

With jurors out of the courtroom, the judge said that if they came back and said they were deadlocked, they would be asked to follow certain deadlock procedures.

According to a Florida Supreme Court committee's description, those procedures include having jurors go back to the deliberation room and having each juror discuss any weakness in his or her position. Healey said a mistrial would be declared if they couldn't reach a verdict after that procedure. Prosecutors would be free to retry Dunn on any count on which there was no decision, Healey said.

The trial came six months after George Zimmerman was acquitted of any crime for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, about 125 miles south of Jacksonville. The Dunn trial was prosecuted by the same State Attorney's Office that handled the Zimmerman case. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic, while Martin was black.

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