Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Man who killed teen in good spirits as jury deliberates

JACKSONVILLE — The defense attorney for a Florida man accused of fatally shooting of a teen after an argument over loud music said Thursday that his client is in good spirits as he waits for jurors to come back with a verdict in his trial.

Michael Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, said that waiting for a verdict is the hard part of the trial.

"From day one, his attitude has been we have the truth. We will prevail," Strolla said.

Dunn is charged with first-degree murder, though jurors could also consider second-degree murder and manslaughter as options for a conviction.

The 12 sequestered jurors went home Thursday evening without reaching a verdict after deliberating for almost 12 hours over two days.

They will resume deliberations this morning.

On Thursday, the jurors asked to see a mannequin and sticks that had been used by prosecutors in the courtroom to reconstruct the angle of the shots that hit the victim. Circuit Judge Russell Healey denied the request, saying the props were only used for demonstrative purposes and weren't entered into evidence.

A short time later, jurors asked for an easel and paper, and an hour after that they asked when Dunn had written a jailhouse letter in which he recounted his version of events. The answer was July of 2013.

Dunn claims he shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis, of Marietta, Ga., in self-defense outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012.

But prosecutors told jurors Dunn shot the teen because he felt disrespected by Davis.

Davis had the music in his SUV turned back up after a friend complied with Dunn's request to turn the volume down.

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

It 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.

The Dunn trial wouldn't have as much attention if not for the Zimmerman acquittal last summer, Strolla said.

"I believe there is a lot vested in this case, politically," Strolla said. "The case, on the heels of not guilty in George Zimmerman, just escalated that political pressure."

A spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office said in an email that her office got the Dunn case in December 2012. Zimmerman's trial took place last summer.

"The prosecution of Michael Dunn began long before the Zimmerman trial," said spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard.

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