Michael Dunn Convicted Of Attempted Murder

Michael Dunn

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) — A jury on Saturday night convicted a Florida man on four charges related to his shooting into an SUV full of teenagers during an argument over loud music, but could not decide on the most serious charge — murder.

Michael Dunn was found guilty on four charges, including three for attempted second-degree murder, which could land him behind bars for decades. Yet there was no verdict on the first-degree murder charge tied to the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

As the jury’s decisions became clear about 7 p.m. Saturday, Dunn looked ahead solemnly with a frown but no tears. His lawyer, Cory Strolla, told reporters later that his client was “in disbelief.”

“Even as he sat next to me, he asked, how is this happening,” Strolla said. “… It has not set in. I don’t think it will set in anytime soon.”

The incomplete finale to this emotional, hot-button trial — partly because of the fact Dunn is white and the teenagers who were shot at, including Davis, are black — echoed George Zimmerman’s trial for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin about 120 miles down the road in Sanford, Florida. While stand your ground wasn’t used by Dunn, his lawyers did argue that he fired in self-defense.

Given the partially hung jury, State Attorney Angela Corey said prosecutors would press for a new trial in Duval County on the murder charge.

“Justice for Jordan Davis is as important as it is for any victim,” said Corey, whose office also handled the Zimmerman case.

Even without a final decision on the murder count — and pending defense appeals — the 47-year-old Dunn is looking at a lengthy prison term.

Prosecutor Erin Wolfson explained Saturday night that each attempted second-degree murder conviction carries a minimum sentence of at least 20 years. There’s also a 15-year sentence possible on the conviction for shooting in the teenager’s vehicle.

“You are looking at basically at life in prison,” Strolla said, even as he vowed to challenge the convictions. “At 47 years old, that’s a life sentence regardless of count one.”

The decision to convict on these counts, and not on murder, didn’t come easily for a jury that had deliberated for about 30 hours since getting the case late Wednesday.

Judge Russell Healey acknowledged earlier Saturday that the jury of four white women, two black women, four white men, an Asian woman and a Hispanic man was “struggling, obviously.”

“But it’s not for want of trying to reconcile all of this,” he said then. “I think we’ve got some analytical people in there who are trying to do just that — trying to analyze this from every possible angle.”

The lack of a murder conviction upset some, including protesters who marched outside the Jacksonville courthouse calling for Corey to lose her job. “The people united will never be defeated,” they also chanted.

Yet Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, didn’t express any anger when she addressed reporters Saturday night. Her family, she said, is “so very happy to have just a little bit of closure.”

“It’s sad for Mr. Dunn that he will live the rest of his life in that sense of torment, and I will pray for him,” McBath said. “And I’ve asked my family to pray for him.”

Confrontation at a gas station

It was November 23, 2012, when Michael Dunn pulled into a gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red Dodge Durango full of teenagers.

The teens had pulled in for gum and cigarettes; Dunn, meanwhile, had just left his son’s wedding with his fiancee, who’d gone inside the convenience store for wine and chips.

Dunn didn’t like the loud music — “rap crap,” as he called it — coming from the teens’ SUV. So he asked them to turn it down.

What followed next depends on whom you believe. Dunn claimed Davis threatened him, and he decided to take matter into his own hands upon seeing what he thought was the barrel of a gun sticking out of the Durango.

But prosecutors asserted that it was Dunn who lost control, firing three volleys of shots — 10 bullets total — at the SUV over music he didn’t like.

Prosecutors challenged what he did next: He left the gas station and drove 40 miles away to a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine. There, Dunn walked his dog, ordered a pizza, then drank rum and cola — “stunned and horrified, (shocked how) things escalated the way they did over a common courtesy.”

After learning almost six hours later that he had killed Davis, Dunn testified that he became “crazy with grief,” experiencing stomach problems for about four hours before taking a nap.

“My intent was to stop the attack, not necessarily end a life,” he testified. “It just worked out that way.”

Yet his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, testified that Dunn had never mentioned any weapon to her — be it a shotgun, a stick, a barrel or a lead pipe — unlike what Dunn had said.

In fact, police found a basketball, basketball shoes, clothing, a camera tripod and cups inside the teenagers’ Durango, but no gun.

And Dunn himself never called police. The first contacts he had with them were at his home in Satellite Beach — 130 miles south of St. Augustine — as he was being apprehended.

Arguing that he wasn’t in a rational state of mind, Dunn admitted, “It makes sense that I should have (contacted authorities). We didn’t. I can’t tell you why.”

Echoes of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

Some were quick to compare Dunn to George Zimmerman, who ultimately was acquitted of murder for the shooting of Martin.

Martin’s own parents were among them, claiming Davis’ killing is another reminder that, in Florida, “racial profiling and stereotypes” may serve as the basis for illegitimate fear “and the shooting and killing of young teenagers.”

But Dunn’s defense attorney, Strolla, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday that the Zimmerman and Dunn cases aren’t so similar.

There was a physical confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin, and police gave Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt about defending himself, Strolla said.

“My client did not wait to become that victim,” he said. “My client did not wait to either get assaulted by a weapon or have someone potentially pull a trigger,” he said.

Though a weapon was never found, Strolla maintains the youths could have had one and somehow ditched in and around the gas station. Regardless, the key point was that Dunn believed they were armed and that his life was in danger.

“Now, does it sound irrational? Of course it sounds irrational. But have you ever been in that situation?” the lawyer asked.

After Saturday’s night decision, it seems unlikely — unless he wins on appeal — that Dunn will ever be in that or many other situations again. Instead, spending the rest of his life in prison seems a more likely outcome.

Strolla said on Saturday the four convictions leave him with regret, even as he said he couldn’t immediately think of anything he’d do differently in the case.

At the same time, the prosecution didn’t manage a conviction on what was by far the biggest charge: first-degree murder.

This mixed bag means that no one can fully celebrate the jury’s decision.

“Everybody lost something in this,” the lawyer said.

His client “will live to fight another day” in court, but he and his loved ones are suffering now. Strolla acknowledged, too, the pain felt by Davis’ family.

Especially on Sunday, which would have been Davis’ 19th birthday.

41 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    If Dunn had addressed the direct threat only and not continued to confront the other thugs then he would be “scott-free”…removing the threat is legal.

  • Cath

    What threat? Did anyone approach him? Why on earth would he shoot. I could even conceivably see pointing a gun at them from your car possibly. But shooting and shooting 9 times? Did he have anything to drink? Who on earth other than some drugged up nfl type would do something like this? Let alone someone who holds down a corporate job. And then he drives off. He wasn’t afraid for his life he was angry and youth hating and racist. Chalk another one up for the
    Tea Party.

    • Juan Doesef

      Does the Tea Party promote abortion? Black babies are aborted at a higher rate than any other group and blacks only account for around13% of the US’s population.

      Democrats are practical racists. Republicans may hate some parts of black culture but they don’t promote & defend tooth & nail the practice of killing minority children like the democrats do…who is the REAL racist?

  • Juan Doesef

    This has to be a justified shooting just by the way the media is handling it. I’ve read around 4 articles so far and they all attempt to use emotional buzz words about the “teen” and that his birthday would have been this weekend and NOT ONCE have they presented why the 47 year old white male’s side of the story. That right there should tell you that they are just out to get the white man.

    Also notice that if a white man kills a black man it makes NATIONAL NEWS but if a black man kills a white man or white teens it would only be carried by local or alternative media.

  • Ren-J

    Justified? Really? So nothing to prove his story, even his fiancé tells a different story. The evidence, witnesses, video, media, and police were all just conspiring to convict him right? You’re saying its perfectly ok for him to open fire on a vehicle, a fleeing one at that, full of unarmed teenagers? Ok yeah. As far as “buzz words” they were called teens because they really were teens. What should they have been called? If anything the only “buzz words” I noticed was the constant use of the word thugs to identify black teens, regardless of if they are or not. Thugs has become the new PC replacement for the N-word. I have never seen it applied to someone not a minority. To address Caths post, the Tea Party does not have the market cornered as far as racism. I am a proud member of the Tea Party and I am a 40 year old Black male. Injustice is injustice no matter the perpetrator or the victim.

    • Cath

      I disagree with your statements and your politics. That wasn’t injustice–that was murder. Again, has anyone askedWhy he felt it necessary to take a gun to his sons wedding if I read where he was correctly. I hate rap music. If I hear it I can and do leave the area. I cannot imagine asking a group of young men to turn down their music. So you do that get pushback and fire a gun at a car 9 times and drive away. Murder. I don’t care what color everyone is—-the man is a flat out murderer. I live perfectly safely in Harlem have for years. I am white and female. There are a lot of people driving around with loud music . They drive away and I walk on. No problem. This man tried to start something for whatever reason and flipped out. He was looking for a reason to go off on those “thugs” and it wasn’t about the music. He wanted to kill a few thugs and he succeeded. See how long he lasts in prison. Murderer. You can be a tea party member, but remember most of them think just like this man.

      • Chris

        Cath, You are a very naive person. You say you lived in Harlem and everything was fine, tell me why chose to point this out? Because its majorily black (and you’re white)? We all know that no one was ever killed in Harlem, right? The only connection to the action and this victim’s race is the assumption that you make, that he was killed because he was black. The fact of the matter is that a young man died because of action, action taken by someone who was obviously not law abiding. He shot a weapon, fled the scene, and felt guilty about it after seeingon TV that the victim was dead. These aren’t actions of a sound mind. It doesn’t matter if this man was a Tea party member, a liberal or a republican, what matters is that he left a victim. What matters is that he was judged by his peers; however, obviously even his peers (the jury) dont think he was guilty of murder!! Quit being a faceless apologist, who whines on message boards about racisim and take action if you really feel that way!!!

      • Cath

        Chris he shot a young black person who was playing rap music and killed him. Not murder. NOT RACIST?. Really? You think he would have pulled a gun on a group of white boys playing rap music? Finally making a decision to fire 9 bullets and killing someone makes him a murderer. He may be crazy, he is definitely a murderer.

      • Chris

        Hey Cath, not sure you actually read the entire story but they apprarently couldn’t find him guilty of murder…I’m not saying it, the jury of his peers are saying it. I’m not sure why I’m even arguing with you about this, you probably don’t think people she be allowed to carry guns at all do you? I hope that people like you never need a Tea Party member with a gun to save them one day. You do understand that its rare these days for someone to commit crime solely based on the fact that their victim is of a certain race, right? One last thing, will you truthfully answer, for everyone here, did you vote for Obama?

    • Juan Doesef

      Not really. I’m just speaking hyperbole. The media always tries to sensationalize it. I promise if blacks had killed a white in this fashion that RACE would have been minimized if not mentioned at all…like WHNT has been guilty of numerous times along with all other media outlets. The only time race is emphasized is when the murderer is white. In this country its okay to pick on whites according to liberal media types.

      When the article spends so much of the beginning of the article working on emotions before they start presenting facts they are preparing you for THEIR slant.

    • Chris

      I would suggest that you yourself have some of that same hate (the opposite way), and this hate allows you to make these accusations of the use of the new “N” word and “HATE” being the only similarly motivating factors of this man shooting another. In fact your “hate” blinds any other possibility, but the possibility that this happened because of race. Maybe you should stop and think for a little while before allowing your “hate” to cloud your judgement; instead it allows you to hop on a faceless message board (how courageous) and type your clouded thoughts. Wow, laws and rights are a beautiful thing in this magnificent country, especially the right to free speech, which allows and fool with a computer and five minutes to type up any unedcuated thoughts he can muster up.

  • Jeanie

    He’s in disbelief because he is an idiot!! He was shooting, right? Someone did die, right? We all know law enforcement and the military states you only draw your weapon when you intend to use it, right? He drew, he used, right? He intended to kill and he did… the end!!

  • James

    you know I find it interesting that there was no gun found in the car that Jordan Davis was in. It is interesting how you seem to feel that if a black man kills a white man, it is not headline news. The fact is that if a black man kills a white man, that black man has no chance in this racist country!

    The only crime that was committed by Jordan Davis is that he happen to be black and playing loud music at a gas station.

  • Gary Burnham

    I live in Florida and only became aware of the trial about ten days ago when one of my patients asked if I had been watching it on T. V. I said that I hadn’t seen it and knew nothing about it. I checked it out on the Internet a day or so later. When the context of the crime became clear…white man…shoots into SUV of black kids…even as they drive away…had four rum and cokes at the wedding reception of a son he had only seen 3 times in ten years…kids playing music too loud in public area…gets into argument with teens who turn the music down…and then turn it up again…has four rum and cokes at wedding reception of son he had only seen three times in ten years…imagines he sees a weapon on the other side of SUV tinted windows….older white man…teenage black kids…shoots into SUV…no shots returned by teens in red SUV who try to get away from crazy…drunk…angry…white guy…angry , drunk, white guy…returns fire at SUV screeching out of parking lot…angry, drunk, white guy…shoots six more times as SUV drives away…no shots fired from Red Durango SUV at all…ever…One dead, black teen,…no gun found in Red SUV…but what Red SUV Durango carrying a bunch of black teens wouldn’t be fully weaponized???..My first reaction after becoming more informed than I wanted to be was…Oh Crap…Florida….how embarrassing…this guy is going to get off…So, what’s the deal? …Can’t imagine that a drunk, angry, white guy would ever shoot at and kill an unarmed black teen? …or is it more like…just another murdered black teen? …what’s the freaking big deal??…There was a time, not that long ago, when married women didn’t have rights and were basically considered to be the property of their spouses…there was also another time, not that long ago, when children didn’t have rights, and could be dealt with as any angry, brutal, abusive parent saw fit…and now, still, there is a time, 2014, when the life or death of a black child, at the hands of a white man, is no freaking big deal. I’m white…if this was the world my white son lived in…where his life was valued less than that of an angry, drunk, white man…I’d give that angry drunk, white man and others like him something to be really …really…really…frightened about. I’d have no choice.

  • Ren-J

    My politics or anyone else’s politics have nothing to do with this. An evil proven racist shot into a vehicle in an attempt to kill ALL the occupants not just Jordan. He was motivated by hatred not fear, nor politics. Saying that you are a white female in Harlem is no different than my saying that I was born and raised in the Deep South in a deeply democrat family,and yet am a Tea Party member. Though both facts are true they are irrelevant to the point at hand. Evil=injustice in my book.

    • Cath

      Ren j you are right as to politics. In my experience most tea party I know are racist. My comment about the tea party was unnecessary. Being white and female in Harlem was a reference to this guy being triggered by not liking rap music he heard from a car full of young men. He didn’t need to ask them to turn music down. That is inflamitary in any situation. Many people including myself experience this frequently. This is a man who was looking for an excuse to fire and kill. Music was only a pretext. Again you are right as to politics. Best wishes.

      • Chris

        One more thing Cath, why is it so inflammatory to ask someone to turn down music that you dont want to hear? Don’t I have just as much right to ask them to turn it down as they do to listen to it that loud? In fact, in most large cities and some states that loud music would be refered to as a noise violation, which would make it unlawful; therefore, I would have the right not to have to listen to some rapper yell the “b” word, the “n” word, the “f” word, and every other nasty thing they rap about. Of course if you have kids and want them to grow up listening to that, well then enjoy when they use those words!!

    • Sammy

      Ren-J, there are no “deeply” Democratic families in the South. Democrats around here are more likely to be blue-dog (conservative) Democrats. It is not much of a shift for anyone in the South to become infatuated by the tea party fad!

      • Bill

        Sen. Robert (the grand wizard) Byrd , an Sen. Albert Gore Sr. Both democrats , both voted NO ,on the civil rights bill, If not for republicans , the civil rights bill would have not passed . The Democrats wanted to hold the Black people back ,and would have if not for the republicans.

      • Ren-J

        When I say “deeply democrat” I mean everyone else sans myself, and one of my older brothers are democrats. They blindly follow the democrat party line wether they agree with it or not. What’s the point of having conservative views if you vote liberal? (Need to ask some senators that)

    • Sammy

      Chris, I do not see your point. In the case you cited they were all convicted. In this Florida case we had a hung jury and Dunn was not convicted. I do not see anything in your example that says that the black guys kidnapped and killed those people because they refused to turn down their music. What is your point for using that example?

      • Ann dunham

        Your right again, wakeup ,I mean Sammy, I mean james, oh! you have me totally confused . I think I will have another chocolate cookie.

      • Chris

        Only someone like you wouldn’t be able to see the point. I will clarify for your sake. The point wasn’t that two white people were or weren’t killed for loud music. The point was that two white people can be kidnapped, tortured, raped and brutally killed, and someone like you never even heard about it (nor is race ever mentioned); however, an obviously unbalanced white man shoots into a vehicle and the entire national media decides this story needs coverage because of the racial implications. Please let me know if you still dont understand and I will try to explain it using as many pictures as I can.

  • Juan Doesef

    Now I do think its crap that the murderer wanted to tell the guys to cut their music down. Can the guy not just tolerate the music for a short while longer? He is at the gas station…they are not blaring music next door while he is sleeping. Personally I am annoyed by the folks that get all worked up over a car driving by with loud music playing…they’ll be gone in 15 seconds! Just let it go!

  • paul

    What scare’s me? The thought processes, or lack of, by Juan Doesef. I know he has every right to think that way but…

  • Skillpot

    Well, I have not read where the Prosecutors pointed out that there were no GUNS in the red Dodge SUV, and I have not read where the Defense has pointed out that there were any!

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