Exactly one week ago, jurors were sworn in as they prepared to view the evidence and hear the testimony and attorneys’ arguments in the Michael Dunn trial. Yesterday, the jury returned a unanimous verdict after a few hours of deliberation. Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Jordan Davis at a Gate gas station in Jacksonville FL. While Dunn argued he acted in self defense, the jurors did not agree. The following set of facts was presented to the jury:
“Dunn, a 47-year-old software developer, had just attended his son’s wedding with his then-fiancé, Rhonda Rouer, when they pulled into a Gate gas station in south Jacksonville. He parked his Volkswagen Jetta next to a red Dodge Durango. Inside that SUV, Davis and three other black teenagers were listening to loud rap music. Dunn and Davis, the right rear seat passenger, exchanged words. Dunn testified that Davis grabbed a shotgun, threatened to kill him, opened his door and got out of the SUV. Dunn grabbed his 9mm pistol from his glove box and shot 10 bullets at the vehicle, striking Davis three times. Dunn said he feared his life was in danger, and he used deadly force to protect himself. But police said no firearm or weapon was found in the Durango. And Rouer testified that Dunn never mentioned seeing a gun in the SUV, even during their multihour drive south down Interstate 95 back to South Patrick Shores.” (USA Today)
This was not the first time that Dunn stood trial for these charges. “In February, a different Duval County jury convicted Dunn on four charges — three counts of second-degree attempted murder and one count of shooting or throwing deadly missiles — for opening fire at the SUV. But jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge and deadlocked, prompting the retrial that kicked off last week.” Now that Dunn has been found guilty of Davis’ murder, he will be sentenced in Jacksonville for all of the charges. The judge will set a sentencing date on October 7, 2014.
Both the Duval County State Attorney and Dunn’s Jacksonville criminal lawyers will prepare for sentencing in this case. Because Dunn is going to be sentence on his first felony case, he is entitled to a presentence investigation. This is known a PSI in Jacksonville. It is set forth in Florida Statute Section 921.231. This report is completed by the Department of Corrections (DOC). It is submitted to the court with a recommendation. The judge is not required to follow the recommendation of the DOC. This is one reason why it is so important that Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers present sufficient mitigation at sentencing hearing on behalf of the defendant. It appears that a PSI report was ordered after Dunn was found guilty of the felonies in the first trial. This will be updated. You will still hear from witnesses for the State of Florida, including the victim’s family members, and witnesses for the defense. The sentencing hearing is a very important phase in most criminal cases. In most Florida criminal cases, you have a sentencing range. This is based on Florida sentencing guidelines and minimum mandatory sentences. Quite often, a defendant’s guidelines will range from no jail time to several years in prison. The sentencing hearing could make the difference between prison and probation in Florida. One of the issues with Dunn’s case is that he has a minimum mandatory sentence based the discharge of a firearm. He is also facing a minimum sentence of life based on the first-degree murder conviction. His attorneys will likely be filing an appeal in order to seek a reversal.