Although the jury returned a verdict on four of the five criminal counts filed against Michael Dunn, this Jacksonville murder case is far from over. Dunn was found guilty after jurors deliberated for days at the Duval County Courthouse. On February 15, 2014, jurors found Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder for firing gunshots into a sports utility vehicle holding four teenagers. The jury also found him guilty of shooting or throwing deadly missiles. While the jurors could decide on these criminal counts, they were unable to reach a decision as to whether Dunn murdered the driver, Jordan Davis. Read After the Michael Dunn Jacksonville Florida Murder Trial for more on the post verdict events of the Michael Dunn and Jordan Davis murder trial.
Dunn sentencing has been set for March 24, 2014 on the counts for which he was found guilty. He will be tried again on the murder charge before a new jury. The Florida attorneys representing the defendant filed a motion to continue the sentencing hearing. They are trying to delay the hearing until after the retrial. Michael Dunn’s attorney “argued in a motion filed last week that it would be unfair to sentence Dunn before disposing of the murder charge…. The teen’s parents oppose delaying the sentence.” (First Coast News of Jax)
As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I understand where Dunn’s attorney is coming from. The defendant is entitled to a pre-sentencing investigation and PSI report to be submitted to the court. If he has pending murder charges arising out of the same set of facts, he cannot fully participate in the pre-sentencing investigation. He has the right against self-incrimination due to the pending charge. This right is given by the 5th amendment of the United States Constitution and applies to the States through the 14th amendment. He cannot testify at the sentencing hearing without possibly giving up his right against self-incrimination as to the murder charge.
Although I am a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I can certainly sympathize with the victims in this case. I am sure that they would like this nightmare to be over, but regardless of when the sentencing hearing occurs, this will not end until the trial is over. Those teenagers are witnesses to the shooting. They will be testifying at the next trial. Additionally, Dunn is in jail in Duval County. It does not seem like he is going to be released anytime soon. Delaying his sentencing will not place him at an advantage or lead to his release.
Judge Russell Healey will preside over the motion to continue the sentencing hearing as well as other pending motions on March 10. He will likely address setting the case for jury selection once again.