Michael Dunn, 46 is accused of firing at least 10 shots into the red Dodge Durango that the 17-year old Jordan Davis and three other teen boys were riding on the day after Thanksgiving 2012. He is charged with one count of first degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle. Dunn has pleaded not guilty and maintains that he shot at the teens in self-defense.
The first-degree murder trial began in Jacksonville, Florida this past Thursday. In the opening statement, prosecutor John Guy told the jury that just after Dunn pulled up beside the teens at the Jacksonville gas station around 7:30 p.m. on November 23, Dunn said to his girlfriend, “I hate that thug music.”
Guy said that Dunn asked the teens to turn the music down and that he and Davis exchanged
F bombs” because Davis “didn’t want to be told what to listen to or at what volume to listen to it.” He continued: “Jordan Davis was upset, no doubt. He was cussing, but he never threatened the defendant. He disrespected the defendant.”
Dunn’s defense attorney, Cory Strolla, told the jury a different story. In his opening statement Strolla said that Davis verbally threatened his client and that at the time Dunn began shooting, Davis was getting out of the car, armed with “a deadly weapon,” and that after the shooting, the teens pulled away from the gas station and got rid of the weapon.
“There was ample time to get rid of a firearm or tire iron or a deadly weapon because they were 100 yards away,” said Strolla.
Guy told the jury that police searched the vehicle after the shooting and found “no guns, no bats, no tire irons,” just, he said, “a camera tripod stuffed beneath one of the seats.
Dunn had previously told police that he thought he saw something like the barrel of a gun in the back-seat.
Strolla, however, had harsh words for the lead police agency, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said officers did not properly-secure or search the area where the teens pulled off to, and that “nobody in law enforcement cared what Michael Dunn had to say” about what had happened that night. He accused one detective of arriving at the crime scene unprepared, and faulted officers for not making sure witnesses weren’t talking to each other before they were interviewed by police.
Stolla also made much of the volume of the music coming from the red Durango, saying that the other teens in the car might not have been able to hear Davis threaten Dunn. He said that Davis told Dunn “you’re dead, ***** and then began to get out of the car with a deadly weapon.”
“We’re not here to say anybody deserved to lose their life, but under the law it’s justified.” Said Strolla. “Michale Dunn had every right under the law to not be a victim, to be judged by 12 rather than carried by 6.”
The prosecution played the surveillance video from the gas station on which the gunshots can be heard: Three loud shots blast in quick succession, then a pause, then four more, then another pause, then three more. According to the prosecution, every single shot hit the car. Three struck Jordan Davis, who died later at the hospital.
According to authorities, Dunn had a concealed weapons permit, pulled a 9mm handgun from the glove compartment, according to an affidavit, and fired multiple shots, striking Davis in the back and groin. The crime scene evidence technician testified that when he arrived about an hour and a half after the shooting, he found nice bullet holes in the Durango.
According to Jacksonville Police, Dunn fled with his girlfriend and drove south more than two hours to his home and never called them. They arrested Dunn the next day after tracking him down through his license plate number.
Sixteen jurors have been chosen to hear the case, including four alternates. Ten jurors are women, six are men, and five of the sixteen are minorities. All have been sequestered, which means they will be kept away from their family and work, as well as Television and Internet until the trial concludes.