The jury in the Michael Dunn murder trial found him guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder Saturday, but a mistrial was declared on a first-degree murder charge after the 12 jurors couldn't agree on it.
The Brevard County man was charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis, of Marietta, Ga., in 2012 after they got into an argument over music coming from the parked SUV occupied by Davis and three friends outside a Jacksonville convenience store. Dunn, who is white, had described the music to his fiancee as "thug music."
Dunn's trial started Feb. 3, and jury deliberations began Wednesday and lasted more than 30 hours over four days.
Dunn showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. Davis' parents each left the courtroom in tears.
Earlier in the day, jurors said in a note to Judge Russell L. Healey that they were having trouble reaching agreement on the murder charge. He asked them to continue their work, and they went back to the deliberation room for two more hours.
"I've never seen a case where deliberations have gone on for this length of time ..." Healey said after the verdict. "They've embraced their civic duty and they are to be commended for that."
Dunn claimed he acted in self-defense, testifying he thought he saw a firearm pointed at him from the SUV as Davis yelled insults at him and the argument escalated. No weapon was found in the SUV.
Dunn told jurors he feared for his life, perceiving "this was a clear and present danger." Dunn, who has a concealed weapons permit, fired 10 shots, hitting the vehicle nine times.
Prosecutors contended that Dunn opened fire because he felt disrespected by Davis. The teen made his friend turn the music back up after they initially turned it down at Dunn's request. Dunn was parked in the spot next to the SUV outside the convenience store.
"That defendant didn't shoot into a carful of kids to save his life. He shot into it to save his pride," Assistant State Attorney John Guy told the jury earlier in the week. "Jordan Davis didn't have a weapon, he had a big mouth."
The trial was the latest Florida case to raise questions about self-defense and race, coming six months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, about 125 miles south of Jacksonville. The Dunn trial was prosecuted by the same State Attorney's Office that handled the Zimmerman case.
Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, told reporters before the verdict that he believed there was political pressure on the prosecutors and an excess of media attention because of Zimmerman's acquittal.
"I believe there is a lot vested in this case, politically," Strolla said. "The case, on the heels of not guilty in George Zimmerman, just escalated that political pressure."
Dunn will be sentenced March 24.
Live updates from Saturday
Judge Healey reads answers to jury questions. Court back in recess.
Jury asks questions about self-defense and how it may apply to individual charges.
- Is the defense of self-defense separate for each person in each count? Yes
- Are we determining if deadly force is justified against each person in each count? Yes
- Or, if we determine deadly force is justified against one person, is it justified against the others? No, self-defense and justifiable use of deadly force applies separately to each count.
Jury deliberations resumed shortly after 9 a.m. The jury has deliberated for 21 hours over the past three days.
Jury tells judge they are unable to reach unanimous verdict on count one, murder. The judge then instructed the jurors to continue deliberating.
Jury asks if entire case is mistried if they are unable reach unanimous verdict on all counts. Judge Healey reviewing jury instruction which mentioned the word "case" rather than "count" when considering possible mistrial.
Jury returns to courtroom and judge tells them only single count is mistried should unanimous verdict not be reached, not the entire case.
Jury enters the courtroom and the verdicts are read.
Martin's parents offer support for Davis' parents
MIAMI (AP) Trayvon Martin's parents have expressed their support for the parents of a 17-year-old fatally shot after an argument over loud music.
In a statement Saturday, Martin's parents said that no matter the verdict, Jordan Davis' parents won't ever see him again. Martin's parents said Davis' killing is ``yet 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.''
Michael Dunn is charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012. Dunn claims he shot Davis in self-defense.
The trial is the latest Florida case to raise questions about self-defense and race and comes six months after George Zimmerman was acquitted of any crime for fatally shooting 17-year-old Martin.
Dunn jury has deliberated longer than Zimmerman's
It took the jury in George Zimmerman's trial 16 hours and 20 minutes to acquit him of murder in July 2013. The jury in Dunn's trial passed that mark shortly after 2 p.m. Friday.
In contrast to Thursday, when jurors came back with several questions for the judge and attorneys, we haven't heard much from the jurors in Dunn's trial since they resumed deliberating shortly after 9 a.m. Friday.
The wait may be tough for the parties directly involved in the case, but Dunn's attorney said earlier in the week that his client was "in good spirits."
The attorney for Davis' family said Thursday that his clients were prepared for any verdict.
Outside the courthouse, a handful of demonstrators have stood holding signs every day since the trial began, demanding "Justice for Jordan." One sign in particular read "Win this trial this time," referencing Zimmerman's acquittal in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a case many have compared to Dunn's trial, both of which involved 17-year-old unarmed black teenagers shot and killed.
On Friday, the demonstrators were not nearly as vocal, but some said just because the jury seemed to be taking its time doesn't mean they were questioning the legal process.
"I know they're trying to make sure they get the right verdict," said Willie Laster, of Jacksonville.
"I'm surprised, but I'm glad that it's taking this long, because that means they're really taking their time to come up with a good verdict, and I think that's a good thing," said Jacksonville resident Mary Dennis.
Also outside the courthouse were members of the New Black Panther Party, who have been a little more vocal than other groups, calling for the death penalty if Dunn is convicted of first-degree murder.
State Attorney Angela Corey did not pursue the death penalty against Dunn. Instead, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty of first-degree murder.
The jury also has the option to consider lesser charges of second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Dunn claims he shot the Georgia teen in self-defense, but prosecutors told jurors Dunn shot the teen because he felt disrespected by Davis during an argument over loud music.
Judge Russell Healey said spectators and lawyers will no longer be able to wait in the courtroom for a verdict, since there was concern that jurors could hear muffled sounds coming from the courtroom.