After three days of jury selection, opening statements were today in the first degree murder trial of Michael Dunn. It’s being referred to as the Loud Music Murder, as Dunn’s complaint about loud music being played by the alleged victim, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, and his friends precipitated the congrontation. What happened next is up for debate, and how much proof the state can provide regarding the next moments will decide the case. The state says Dunn became incensed from the disagreement about the bass, and intentionally shot at the car with the young men. Dunn claims that he was afraid for his life, thought he saw a weapon, and was justified in firing to protect himself.
It sounds like there are some inconsistencies in the witnesses’ different telling of events, which is a hurdle for the state to overcome. No weapon was ever found, which hurts the Defendant’s story. It should be noted that there would have been time for the young men to have disposed of a weapon, or that Dunn could have been afraid for his life if he thought there was a firearm. Still, without a gun, it will be hard for the defense to convince a jury that Dunn was justified in shooting the young man. Also, he drove several miles to his hotel, and never contacted police.
The story has gained national attention due to the similarities to the George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case. As in Zimmerman’s defense, a white man shot and killed a young black man. It happened in the same region of Florida, and this case is being handled by prosecutor Angela Corey,
who oversaw the prosecution of Zimmerman. This is also a self-defense case, and no motion to dismiss has been filed under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. That’s the Stand Your Ground Motion that people often think of, though Zimmerman’s defense did not argue it, either. Dunn will be helped by the law, because another provision removed the ‘duty to retreat’ requirement. If Dunn was in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm, he is allowed to use deadly force. He does not have to try to get away under Florida law. It will be up to the jury to determine whether his stated fear was reasonable.
More details on the case can be found on our earlier post, or click the Michael Dunn tag for the full Crimcourts treatment.