February 17th, 2014
07:46 AM ET

Dunn Convicted of Attempted Murder; Hung Jury on Murder in 'Loud Music' Trial

Nineteen years ago, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath celebrated the birth of a son.

Sunday, they should have celebrated Jordan Davis' birthday with him. Instead, they faced the prospect of a new trial for the man accused of killing him.

A jury in Jacksonville on Saturday found Michael Dunn guilty of attempted second-degree murder for opening fire on three other teens in the same SUV as Jordan Davis - but deadlocked on the murder charge against him in Davis' death.

Prosecutors had argued that Dunn recklessly shot at the teens after complaining about the volume of their music in a convenience store parking lot. Three of his 10 shots struck Davis, one of them cutting through his liver, a lung and his aorta.

Dunn testified that Davis threatened him and that he thought he saw a gun sticking out of the Dodge Durango.

But Ron Davis said his son was a good kid and didn't deserve to be collateral damage in an argument over loud music. McBath said she was happy for 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 have asked my family to pray for him, but we are so grateful for the charges that have been brought against him. We are so grateful for the truth."

And moments before prosecutor Angela Corey said she would seek a new trial on the murder charge, McBath said she and her ex-husband will continue to stand up for their son, who was 17 when he was killed.

"We will continue to wait for justice for Jordan," she said.

Shooter faces decades in prison

A jury on Saturday night convicted Dunn of three charges of attempted murder for shooting at the other three teenagers in the SUV and one count of shooting into the vehicle on November 23, 2012.

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."

Ron Davis was pleased that Dunn face 60 years or more in prison for the attempted murder charges.

"He is going to learn that he must be remorseful for the killing of my son, that it was not just another day at the office. My son will never be just another day at the office where (Dunn) can leave the scene and be stoic," he told reporters.

He wanted it known that Jordan was not a troublemaker.

"It wasn't allowed to be said in the courtroom, but he was a good kid. We will say it. He was a good kid," he said. "There are a lot of good kids out there ... and they should have a voice. They shouldn't live in fear and walk around the streets worrying about if someone has a problem with somebody else that if they are shot, it is just collateral damage."

The incomplete finale to this hot-button trial - emotionally charged partly because Dunn is white and the teenagers he shot at 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 the state's "stand your ground" law wasn't used by Dunn, his lawyers did argue that he fired in self-defense.

Another murder trial?

Given the partially hung jury, Corey, Florida's state attorney, 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 into the teenagers' vehicle.

"You are looking 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."

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said in most cases prosecutors will take some time after a mistrial to reflect on the case before planning the next steps.

"If he winds up with 60 or 75 years in jail, from a pragmatic standpoint it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to retry the case," he said Sunday. "On the other hand if you're the parents of Jordan Davis and you believe, as well you should, that your son's reputation has been besmirched by this self-defense claim, the family (might) want a retrial, and that's something that a prosecutor has to consider carefully.

"Hopefully (Corey will) look carefully at the pluses and minuses of doing a retrial."

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 chanted.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Lena Biscuit

    It is very sad to see how our world is turning to....White, Black, red, yellow does matter what color is your skin we are all 1 in God's eyes. I am a black-African and respect all people,but this Stand your Ground law of Florida will finish all the young people that live there...NC love forever

    February 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  2. Doug Beare

    Florida is an insane place to have a "stand your ground" law. I am white, descendant of two Confederate veterans, but I will not set foot in Florida until "stand your ground" is no longer the law of the land in Florida. Glad I got in several trips to Disney World with my grandson before the insanity set in throughout Florida. I would as soon take a vacation in Afghanistan!

    February 17, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  3. ronvan

    First of all I am a 69yr. old white male! MAYBE, there will come a time, not for me, when WE, will not have to describe ourselves by color or religion? Cases like these are disgusting in that, again for me, they DO show discrimination & racism is alvie & well! In todays world blacks are "assumed" to be armed & dangerous!? A very STUPID and unacceptale condition! And to make things worse you have FLA. making "laws" that encourage shooting first & asking questions later! Is this the "modern day" world that we want?

    February 17, 2014 at 9:12 am | Reply

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