After prosecutors rested their case Monday against Michael Dunn, the Florida man accused of killing a teen following a spat over loud music, his defense attorneys called a slew of friends to the stand to testify about the 47-year-old’s “reputation for peacefulness.”
“I have always thought he was a gentle man,” said Randy Berry, the instructor who taught Dunn how to fly airplanes. Berry’s wife, Beverly, echoed his sentiment, testifying, “Never have I observed anything other than a very calm demeanor.”
Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The teen and his friends were sitting in an SUV next to Dunn when an argument quickly led to Dunn pulling his gun and shooting nine times into the vehicle, killing Davis.
Dunn also faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder related to three other teens -- Leland Brunson, Tommie Stornes and Tevin Thompson -- who were also in the vehicle with Davis but survived the shooting.
Dunn has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and told police in an interrogation following the incident that he acted in self-defense after seeing what he believed to be the barrel of a shotgun or a stick in the teens’ red Dodge Durango. Police said no weapons were recovered from the teenagers' vehicle.
Before resting their case on Monday, the fourth day of testimony, prosecutors called medical examiner Dr. Stacey Simons to the stand to poke holes in Dunn’s self-defense claim.
Simons showed graphic images of Davis’ deceased body and said the teen had no drugs or alcohol in his system on November 23, 2012, the day he was fatally shot. She also said she believed Davis was leaning away from -- not moving toward -- his shooter when the fatal shot entered his body.
Simons demonstrated her theory in front of the jury using her own body along with a mannequin. She showed how one of the nine bullets to hit the vehicle ripped through Davis’ torso and fractured some of his ribs, while also hitting several organs and a major artery that supplied blood to the rest of his body.
“I believe that it would have been fatal in a matter of minutes,” Simons said.
She also demonstrated how two other bullets struck Davis’ body -- one in his left leg and one in his right -- and said she believed they would have been debilitating, but likely not fatal.
Watch: Was there more than one gun?
After several of Dunn’s friends kicked off the defense’s case, attorney Cory Strolla called the victim’s father, Ron Davis, to the stand.
Shortly after his son’s death, the teens who survived the shooting paid him a visit. In a deposition Strolla read to jurors, Davis seemed to imply that the teens' stories about the incident differed from one another.
“I think they were all in shock because what one was saying, the other was saying something a little bit different than the other one… they were trying to explain to me but I wasn’t hearing them,” Ron Davis said in the deposition.
But he insisted in front of the jury Monday that the boys only came over to share their condolences -- not talk about the facts of the case.
“I didn’t say that they didn’t make any sense -- I didn’t make any sense of it because I was devastated,” Ron Davis said.
During cross-examination, he went on to detail the grief they shared that day, describing Leland Brunson as “crying uncontrollably. He was going back and forth in the house, from the living room to Jordan’s room. He would sit on the bed for a few minutes, come back to me and just cry and hug me and he said, ‘Pop, there’s nothing I could have done,’ and then he went back to the bedroom.”
Tevin Thompson, according to Ron Davis, “was crying also. He usually has a big smile on his face and he was just crying -- he was just crying.”
The defense also tried to downplay the “three or four” rum and colas Dunn’s girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, said he had at his estranged son’s wedding the night of the shooting.
Dunn wiped his eyes as his son, Chris Dunn, took the stand and described having just rekindled his relationship with his dad, who he said was happy the night of his wedding and showed no signs of being inebriated. According to Chris Dunn, his father was not slurring his speech or stumbling.
Phyllis Molinaro, Chris Dunn’s mother and Michael Dunn’s ex-wife, also testified that the drinks being poured that night were “weak.”
She also said Dunn “showed up on time and everybody treated him like he was part of the family… We all had a good time… nobody had any problems.”
Judge Russell Healey said he expects testimony in the trial to wrap on Tuesday. If it ends early enough, then closing arguments may begin in the afternoon or they could be pushed to Wednesday.
If convicted, Dunn faces up to life in prison.