Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

In Jacksonville, opening statements in murder trial over loud music

JACKSONVILLE — A man intended to kill a teen outside a convenience store after an argument over loud music, even though the 17-year-old posed no threat, prosecutors said Thursday during opening statements of the man's murder trial.

Michael Dunn, 47, is accused of killing Jordan Davis, who was outside the Jacksonville store with his friends in November 2012. An argument began after Dunn told them to turn the music down, police said. One of Davis' friends lowered the volume, but Davis then told him to turn it back up.

Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, pulled a 9mm handgun from the glove compartment, according to an affidavit, and fired multiple shots into the SUV, striking the Marietta, Ga., teen in the back and groin.

Prosecutor John Guy told jurors that Davis posed no threat to Dunn and that there was no weapon in Davis' truck.

"Jordan Davis was upset, not doubt. He was cussing, no doubt. He raised his voice, no doubt. But he never threatened the guy," Guy said. "The only thing he had on his person was a cellphone and a pocket knife. They stayed in his pocket."

Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, told jurors that Dunn felt threatened and fired in self-defense. Under Florida law, Dunn had every right not to be a victim, the defense attorney said.

During the argument, Davis brandished the pocket knife, which was 4 inches and serrated when opened, Strolla said.

Davis' words to Dunn were, " 'I should kill you right now,' " Strolla said.

A witness said he pulled up to the store and went inside where the music was loud enough to be noticeable. When Steven Smith went outside, he said he noticed the music had stopped.

Smith said he heard someone from a Volkswagen Jetta say, "Nope, you're not going to talk to me that way." Smith testified that he then saw a man reach into the glove compartment through the passenger window, pull out a pistol and fire into the SUV.

The SUV started driving off and Smith said he noticed bullet holes in the side of the car.

Smith said he never saw anyone with a weapon in the SUV.

Another witness, Shawn Lee Atkins, said he was sitting in his truck outside the store when he heard shots fired. The SUV backed up and sped off, and Atkins said he saw man crouched behind his open car door firing at the vehicle. Atkins said he memorized the license plate of the shooter's car and went inside the store to write it down on a paper bag.

The store's clerk testified she was waiting on Dunn's fiancee inside the store when she heard the shots. Mariah Grimes testified that she saw a man firing a silver pistol from the window of his black car. The fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, walked to the store's door at the sound of the shots and left her items and change behind, Grimes said.

Rouer got into the black car which drove away, Grimes said.

Guy said Dunn and Rouer drove to their hotel that night and ordered pizza. The next morning, they learned from TV news that someone had died and then drove home to South Patrick Shores, along Florida's Space Coast.

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