Michael Dunn was found guilty of four counts of attempted murder for shooting up an SUV full of black teenagers, one of whom died as a result. Dunn, who is white, says he asked the kids to turn down music that was blaring from their SUV. After they refused, he claims to have seen a gun emerge from one of the windows which is when he opened fire.
On the charge of first-degree murder in the death of 17-year old Jordan Davis, the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. Racial activists have now resurrected the ghost of George Zimmerman to “prove” that a young black man in Florida can’t get “justice.”
Except Dunn, who is 47 years old, is facing a mandatory 20 year sentence for each count of attempted murder. The chances are slim and none that he will ever see the outside world again.
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.”
Trayvon Martin’s parents claimed that Davis’ death is a reminder that “racial profiling and stereotypes” may serve as the basis for illegitimate fear “and the shooting and killing of young teenagers.”
The fact is, Dunn’s story has a lot of holes, as I’ll explain on the next page.
His behavior following the shooting was disturbing. He does not make a very credible — or sympathetic — witness.
But the jury’s failure to convict on first-degree murder charges is hardly evidence of racial animus or bias on anyone’s part. There is just enough doubt generated in Dunn’s story that I could see where a reasonable jury would have trouble agreeing on the facts. There is also little evidence that Dunn’s actions were racially motivated, or the result of fearing the teens because they were black. It’s a convenient whipping boy to throw down the race card to explain Dunn’s actions, but where’s the proof? Dunn said nothing that would indicate that race had anything at all to do with the shooting, and in the absence of any statement from the defendant, race activists are left with claiming they can read his mind.
It’s pretty obvious activists want to milk this incident for every drop of racial politics they can. Otherwise, they’d realize that unless they want the prosecutor to seek the death penalty for Dunn in his second trial, an outcome that includes life in prison would satisfy the demands of justice for most of the rest of us.