Guilty on four counts in ‘loud music murder trial’

AUTODIDACT 17 | 2/20/2014, 2:28 p.m.

On Saturday evening, in a ruling that concluded six days of testimonies and four days of deliberations, a 12-member sequestered jury in Jacksonville, Fla., announced a guilty verdict on charges stemming from Michael Dunn’s admitted murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

The jury convicted Dunn on three counts of second-degree attempted murder for exiting his vehicle and shooting into a parked Dodge Durango occupied by four unarmed Black teenagers who were listening to music. He was also found “guilty of shooting ... as charged in the indictment” for continuing to fire at the SUV as it drove away.

Prosecutors allege that Dunn had enough time to reflect before acting, which is why Dunn received the premeditated murder charge.

“It was too long before victims’ voices were heard,” determined Angela Corey, the state special prosecutor who also presented last year’s Trayvon Martin case. “Justice for Jordan Davis is as important as it is for any of our other victims.”

The jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge, disagreeing on whether Dunn had malicious intent or acted in self-defense. They also failed to agree on lesser charges that were automatically associated with charges of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter.

“We are so grateful for the truth. It’s a long, long road, and we’re so very happy to have just a little bit of closure,” expressed Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath. “It’s sad for Mr. Dunn that he will live the rest of his life with that sense of torment, and I will pray for him.”

Ron Davis, Jordan’s father, added: “The whole world is looking at all of us here in Jacksonville.”

Some outside the courthouse protested the absence of a murder conviction and called for Corey’s removal.

“The verdict won’t sit well with the Black community in Jacksonville,” said Ken Jefferson, vice president for local group Operation Save Our Sons. “There is a feeling of being able to shoot Black people and get away with it, particularly after the Zimmerman case.”

Despite the hung jury and pending appeals, Dunn may never see the streets again. Prosecutor Erin Wolfson explained that under Florida law, sentences for crimes committed with guns must run consecutively. Therefore, each second-degree attempted murder conviction carries a 20-year minimum sentence, totaling 60 years. Plus, the other conviction adds another 15 years.

“At 47 years old, that’s a life sentence, regardless of count one,” Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, conceded, vowing to appeal. Strolla said his client was “in disbelief” after the verdict. “Even as he sat next to me, he asked, ‘How is this happening?’ … It has not set in. I don’t think it will set in anytime soon,” Strolla said.

Prosecutors established that on the evening of Nov. 23, 2012, the 47-year-old, after pulling up beside the Durango in the parking lot, had not shot in self-defense as claimed, but rather because the teen was blasting that “rap crap” and “thug music”—as his fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, testified—refused to lower it and then cussed at him.

One witness recalled hearing Dunn angrily respond, “You’re not going to talk to me that way,” prior to pulling his pistol from the glove compartment.