Michael Dunn’s first-degree murder trial is in its final stage. Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers, Florida state attorneys, the media, and the public have been following this case that started 11 days ago. It’s been almost two weeks since lawyers for both sides questioned potential jurors in the effort to find a jury for this criminal case. Dunn’s case is now in the hands of the jury as they deliberate. Dunn is “the Florida man accused of shooting an unarmed teen following a dispute over loud music at a gas station in Jacksonville.” He is also being charge with three counts of attempted murder. “Prosecutors accuse him of opening fire on an SUV full of teenagers in November 2012, killing high school student Jordan Davis.” Dunn has claimed that he acted properly under Florida’s self defense laws. This case has drawn the nation’s attention to Florida’s stand your ground law and the duty to retreat when confronted with deadly force. This is not the first time that the nation has focused on Florida’s self defense laws. There have been many comparisons between Dunn’s case and the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The George Zimmerman murder trial also grasped Jacksonville criminal lawyers’ attention and the media alike. Read Jacksonville Dunn and Davis Shooting Compared to Florida Zimmerman Case on the Jacksonville lawyers’ website for the full article.
Yesterday, the State of Florida and Dunn’s defense attorney gave their closing arguments to the jury that will decides whether Dunn is guilty of murder or whether he acted in self-defense. He could also be found guilty of a lesser-included offense, manslaughter. “In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors said inconsistencies between Dunn’s words and actions undermined his claim that he acted in self defense when he fatally shot the teen. His lawyer countered that the state failed in its quest to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client was guilty. He pleaded with jurors to find him not guilty.” (CNN News)
Dunn took the stand in his defense on Tuesday. He testified “that he saw Davis reach down and pick something up, and that he saw about ‘4 inches of a barrel’ from a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun above the window.” He told the jury “he fired in self-defense after the teen threatened him with a gun.” He said that his “intent was to stop the attack, not necessarily end a life.” As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I think that biggest problem with this argument is that police did not find a gun or anything resembling what Dunn may have though was firearm. The defense presented the argument that the other teenagers in the vehicle disposed of the gun before police arrived. Dunn’s criminal defense lawyer “noted that the SUV departed the gas station after the shooting and was gone for three minutes before it returned, enough time for the youths to have dumped a gun” and “detectives did not search the area for days after the shooting.” The Duval County State Attorney’s Office pointed out other evidence supporting the theory that Dunn did not act in self defense noting “Dunn fired 10 shots at the SUV, three of them while the car was fleeing. He never took cover — but instead opened his car door — even though he would later tell detectives that he had seen a weapon.” In support of the State’s theory that there was no firearm, the state pointed out that Dunn “did not tell his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, that he had seen a weapon until more than a month later. Dunn also left the scene of the shooting, went back to a hotel where they were staying…. And he returned the next day to his house — more than two hours away — all without calling 911.”
If the jury finds Dunn guilty of first-degree murder, he will go to Florida State Prison for the rest of his life. There is no way around it. The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison. The Duval County State Attorney’s Office is not seeking the death penalty.