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Dunn's fate now in the hands of the jury

NEED TO KNOW
  • Michael Dunn is charged with first-degree murder for shooting teenager Jordan Davis -- watch for a verdict live on HLN
  • 'I was in fear for my life,' Dunn told the jury Tuesday
Dunn's fate now in the hands of the jury
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See the evidence in the Michael Dunn case

See the evidence in the Michael Dunn case

Michael Dunn testifies: Teen told me, 'You're dead'

Michael Dunn testifies: Teen told me, 'You're dead'

HLNtv.com is live-blogging closing arguments in the Michael Dunn trial. Read below for minute-by-minute updates.

Michael Dunn’s fate is now in the hands of 12 Florida jurors -- seven women and five men -- who began deliberating shortly after 5 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Dunn is accused of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis who was fatally shot in Jacksonville, Florida, during a dispute over loud music. The 47-year-old has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him, which also include three counts of attempted murder related to three teens who were in the vehicle with Davis but survived the shooting.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys had one last chance on Wednesday to argue their cases in front of the jury.

Prosecutor Erin Wolfson delivered the state's closing argument and told a very different story from the one portrayed by Dunn, who has said he was forced to shoot at the teens in self-defense.

"This defendant, when he pulled up next to that SUV, his blood started to boil," Wolfson said. "He didn’t like the music that was coming out of the car next to him. He got angrier and angrier as that music irritated him. This defendant went crazy. He got angry at the fact that a 17-year-old kid decided not to listen to him... When he pulled out his gun, he shot to kill."

Dunn’s defense attorney, however, said in his closing argument that prosecutors had no evidence to back their claim.  

"An argument takes two,” Cory Strolla told the jury. “An argument goes back and forth. And not one single witness took that stand, under oath, and said this man [Dunn] yelled anything back at any time or said anything back in anger."

Wolfson also laid out a case for premeditated murder, telling the jurors that the number of bullets that hit the car -- nine -- and the position of those bullets show that Dunn had plenty of time to reflect on his actions. She also focused in on the hours following the incident, when Dunn returned to his hotel room and then later drove home instead of calling police.

"This defendant didn't tell anyone because he thought he had gotten away with murder," said Wolfson.

Strolla, however, argued that the law was on his client's side: "It's in black and white and it's the law... we're here to apply it."

Dunn got the chance to speak to jurors himself when he took the stand Tuesday. He wiped his eyes several times as he explained why he felt he had to shoot at the teens in self-defense.

"He’s showing me a gun and he’s threatening me," Dunn said, referring to Davis. "I was in fear for my life and I was probably stunned… I had never been threatened, let alone with a firearm before… I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing."

Dunn showed the jury how he reached over to his glove box, pulled out his pistol and fired several shots at the teens' red Dodge Durango. Six of the nine bullets that pierced the vehicle landed in the right-side doors. Three of those bullets hit Davis, according to the medical examiner, who previously testified that one of those shots was fatal, having ripped through several of the teen's organs.

If convicted, Dunn faces up to life in prison.

HLN is live-blogging closing arguments in Dunn's murder trial (click here for the live blog from Dunn's testimony Tuesday). Read below for minute-by-minute updates (best read from the bottom up):

4:39 p.m. ET: The jurors have been dismissed.

4:38 p.m. ET: Jury instructions have concluded. Jurors will hit the buzzer when they have chosen a foreperson. At that time, deliberations will have officially started. When jurors reach a verdict, they will hit the buzzer again.

4:28 p.m. ET: The judge tells the jurors that the first thing they should do is choose a foreperson. He's now going over the verdict forms.

4:20 p.m. ET: Instructions on reasonable doubt are now being read to the jury. The judge is also telling the jurors that they can decide which evidence and witnesses are reliable.

4:15 p.m. ET: The judge is reviewing how and when Dunn has the right to "meet force with force." He's also reading several other definitions including assault and aggravated assault.

4:01 p.m. ET: Now the judge is reviewing the attempted first-degree murder charges related to the other teens who were in the vehicle with Davis but survived the shooting.

3:56 p.m. ET: The judge continues to read instructions and says we all have a "duty to act reasonably towards others." He explains the reasonable use of deadly force.

3:48 p.m. ET: The judge says homicide can be excused if the killing is committed by accident, happens in the heat of passion or when it’s committed by accident from "a sudden combat if a dangerous weapon is not used and the killing is not done in a cruel and unusual manner."

3:46 p.m. ET: The judge tells the jury that murder in the first-degree also includes the lesser charges of murder in the second degree and manslaughter.

3:44 p.m. ET: The judge is back on the bench and the jury is being seated.

3:28 p.m. ET: "To the living, we owe respect. But to the dead, we owe the truth. Jordan Davis -- Jordan Russell Davis -- 17 forever. As they had done so many times, the two young men, were side-by-side and because of that defendant it was for the very last time," said Guy. He has concluded his rebuttal closing argument as Davis' father wipes his eyes.

The judge has dismissed the jury for a 10-minute stretch break before reading their instructions.

3:26 p.m. ET: "Your verdict in this case will not bring Jordan Davis back to life. Your verdicts won’t change the past but they will forever define it," Guy said.

3:24 p.m. ET: "Justice does not require perfection -- it requires the truth," said Guy. "Will you all use your common sense?"

3:23 p.m. ET: The friends who talked about how "peaceful" Dunn was were friends of his parents or one was an old friend, according to Guy.

"Had any of them been in his head when he heard that kind of music, in that kind of situation? No," said Guy.

3:17 p.m. ET: "Gangsters – that’s a telling word, label, that he used to describe people," said Guy. "You've met them now -- it's your call. Are any of them really thugs or gangsters?"

3:16 p.m. ET: "Could they really get a shotgun out of the car with nobody noticing?" asked Guy.

3:14 p.m. ET:

3:10 p.m. ET: "If the door was open and the car was backing up, it would have made a line all the way across that door," said Guy.

3:08 p.m. ET:

3:06 p.m. ET: "911 is three digits – that’s why they make it that way. Isn’t that the first thing someone would do?" asked Guy.

3:04 p.m. ET: "Why on earth, if there was a gun in the other car that's gone... why would he leave? The same reason that Tommie Stornes came back, proves to you he shouldn't have left. That was the safe harbor," said Guy.

3:01 p.m. ET: "He chose to shoot for the worst of all reasons – 10 times – because he wanted to shoot them," Guy said.

2:59 p.m. ET: "If Jordan Davis had a gun, that defendant never would have left the scene," said Guy.

2:56 p.m. ET: Guy says the police officers didn’t sleep through the night “like the defendant did.” Guy accuses them of picking on the investigators.

2:53 p.m. ET: Prosecutor John Guy is delivering the rebuttal closing argument.

"That defendant didn’t shoot into a car full of kids to save his life. He shot into it to preserve his pride – period. That’s why we’re here... Jordan Davis didn’t have a weapon, he had a big mouth. And that defendant wasn’t going to stand for it. And it cost Jordan Davis his life," Guy said.

He says this case isn't about self-defense but self-denial.

"We don’t want your sympathy… we’re asking for the truth as you know it now, in your heart, in your head, in your gut," said Guy.

2:50 p.m. ET: The judge is back on the bench. He says he expects it to take 30 minutes to read jury instructions. The jury is being seated.

2:33 p.m. ET: "You need to go home, lay your head on a pillow, and never consider your verdict again. It has to stay with you the rest of your life," said Strolla. "Mr. Dunn's day is today... unless you have an abiding conviction of guilty, you cannot find Mr. Dunn guilty of anything."

Strolla has concluded his closing argument. The judge has dismissed court for a 15-minute break.

2:30 p.m. ET: "If I ever gave up law, I'd be a dentist because I had to pull teeth from almost every witness for the state," said Strolla.

2:26 p.m. ET: "It's in black and white and it's the law... we're here to apply it," said Strolla. If jurors think there's reasonable doubt that Dunn acted in self-defense that they have to find him not guilty, urged Strolla.

2:24 p.m. ET: Dunn had the right to "meet force with force," according to Strolla. He says the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Davis didn't try to hurt or attempt to hurt Dunn.

2:21 p.m. ET: The danger facing Dunn "need not be actual," according to Strolla -- he had to believe the danger was real.

2:18 p.m. ET: The justifiable use of deadly force can be used to dismiss all of the charges against Dunn, according to Strolla.

2:16 p.m. ET: "You can’t defy the law of physics and you can’t hide the truth… it doesn’t work," Strolla said.

2:15 p.m. ET: One of the bullet holes in the vehicle is almost straight on, according to Strolla, who suggests it was made while the door was open. He says the other bullet holes are at a right-angle.

"This isn't the 'Matrix' -- bullets don't move. They go straight," said Strolla. "Jordan Davis had every chance to get out of the car -- just like Mr. Dunn said -- and he did."

2:11 p.m. ET: Strolla has pulled out the dummy and asks how the gunshot wounds could defy physics. The medical examiner said Davis was leaning over, away from Dunn, when the fatal shot hit his body.

2:07 p.m. ET: "You have lack of evidence, conflicts of evidence and reasonable doubt," said Strolla. Davis' friends said his window was rolled up except for a few inches but the evidence shows his window was rolled all the way down, according to Strolla.

2:05 p.m. ET: One of Davis' friends admitted on cross-examination that Davis reached for the door handle but he said he couldn't get out because of the child locks, according to Strolla.

2:04 p.m. ET: "All he was trying to do is deescalate a situation that was spiraling out of control," said Strolla. It was Davis who was escalating the situation, according to Strolla.

2:01 p.m. ET: "We had state witnesses change their story from direct, to cross, to re-direct," said Strolla. He implores the jury to watch the entire surveillance video from the night of the shooting.

1:58 p.m. ET: Strolla is questioning facts left out of police reports. He also says the child safety locks on the back doors of the vehicle weren't engaged, which means, "The boys are all lying."

1:54 p.m. ET: "We all have friends -- nobody wants to lose a friend. But you certainly aren't going to be the one to basically admit -- my friend was out of control. My friend did grab a weapon. My friend did get out of the vehicle," said Strolla.

1:52 p.m. ET: Strolla says the teens admitted they couldn't hear everything Davis said to Dunn because the music was so loud. "There was nothing of hate coming from Mr. Dunn. Nothing of anger coming from Mr. Dunn," said Strolla.

1:51 p.m. ET: "He is innocent -- innocent -- not even not guilty," said Strolla.

1:47 p.m. ET: "When she took her oath for this clerk, did you see her tremble?" Strolla asked, referring to Dunn's fiancee, Rhonda Rouer. He says Rouer was even more shaken up the night of the incident.

1:46 p.m. ET: "This man’s got a reputation for peacefulness," said Strolla.

1:44 p.m. ET: "They knew they messed up. They knew a defense attorney was coming," Strolla said about investigators.

1:43 p.m. ET: The police didn't actually go to search for weapons because they were only there for 40 minutes and used that time to talk to people in the neighboring stores, according to Strolla.

1:41 p.m. ET: Police waited five days to search the plaza for a weapon, according to Strolla.

1:37 p.m. ET: Strolla tells jurors to watch the police interrogation again: "He never waivers until the detectives tell him, 'We searched the entire crime scene, there's no weapon anywhere - is it possible it's something else?'"

1:33 pm. ET: Strolla asks why police didn't secure the scene or search the plaza. He says investigators told him, "No, not my job."

1:30 p.m. ET: Strolla is pacing in the courtroom, staying silent. He counts off one minute, two minutes. He begins speaking again after about three minutes.

"There were no weapons found in that truck in three minutes. Where was that truck? It left the scene," Strolla said.

1:27 p.m. ET: "An argument takes two. An argument goes back and forth. And not one single witness took that stand under oath and said this man yelled anything back at any time or said anything back in anger," said Strolla.

1:24 p.m. ET: Some of the witnesses have "got an outcome and interest in this case," said Strolla.

1:21 p.m. ET: "No matter how much Ms. Wolfson wants to raise her voice at you... not a single witness or evidence suggests any anger or any hate from Mr. Dunn towards anyone," said Strolla. He says even the other teens in the vehicle said that Dunn never seemed to get upset.

1:18 p.m. ET: The prosecution referred to Dunn as "the defendant" in order to de-humanize him, according to Strolla. He says its up to the prosecution to prove the facts in the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

1:16 p.m. ET: Strolla tells jurors they'll be able to bring the law back with them into the deliberation room.

"You know who else has the law? That man right there -- he has every protection under the law that this country provides," said Strolla.

1:14 p.m. ET: The jury is being seated. Defense attorney Cory Strolla will deliver the closing argument for Dunn's team.

1:11 p.m. ET: Waiting for the jury to be brought back into the courtroom.

1:08 p.m. ET: The judge is back on the bench.

12:02 p.m. ET: "He has had his trial and he has had his right to be judged by 12. Today is the day that you all, as members of the jury, can define what this defendant did on November 23, 2012. This defendant may have forever silenced Jordan Davis but he cannot silence the truth. He cannot silence this jury from rendering a fair verdict. A verdict that speaks for the truth. A verdict that holds this defendant accountable for his actions that night. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a verdict of guilty as charged." Wolfson has finished her closing argument and the judge has dismissed court for the lunch recess. 

11:58 a.m. ET: "He wasn't shaking out of fear. He had steady hands when he hit Jordan's door, three times," said Wolfson. "That gun didn't fire itself."

11:56 a.m. ET: "They were gone long enough to realize their friend was dead," said Wolfson. She said the teens weren't stashing guns in dumpsters, bushes or on roofs.

11:51 a.m. ET: Wolfson continues to walk through more of what she calls inconsistencies in Dunn's statements.

11:46 a.m. ET: There are many inconsistencies in Dunn's statements, according to Wolfson.

11:41 a.m. ET: Wolfson says Dunn called the teens "boys" when talking to police but later described them in a letter as "menacing black boys." The defense has objected and the attorneys are at a sidebar.

11:38 a.m. ET: Wolfson is discussing the final charge, which is shooting or throwing deadly missiles. She's also discussing how jurors should weigh the evidence and the testimony from the witnesses.

11:36 a.m. ET: "He shot at the backs of unarmed teenagers -- that's attempted murder in the first degree," said Wolfson.

11:34 a.m. ET: "This defendant intended to kill any and all of them. He didn’t care who he was shooting at. As long as he kept hitting this SUV he kept shooting," Wolfson said.

11:31 a.m. ET: Wolfson started going over attempted murder in the first-degree (related to the three other teens in the vehicle) and the defense objected. The attorneys are at a sidebar.

11:29 a.m. ET: Wolfson asks why Dunn, if he was in so much fear, didn't call police to tell them there was a red SUV out there with a gun in it?

11:27 a.m. ET: If Davis' door was open, then it would have scratched Dunn's car as they teens pulled away, according to Wolfson.

11:25 a.m. ET: "Self-defense does not let you assume," said Wolfson. "Nine shots into that car. The defendant left the scene unscathed." 

11:24 a.m. ET: "Michael Dunn does not get to just assume Jordan Davis had a gun -- assume he was pointing it at him," said Wolfson.

11:23 a.m. ET: "He thought they were a car full of gangsters. He thought there were more of them. He thought every car after that was a red SUV," said Wolfson.

11:22 a.m. ET: "If there was a gun in that SUV, wouldn't they have shot first once they saw him reach for his gun?" asked Wolfson. "There were no shots ever fired at this defendant... There was no gun or weapon ever found. That wasn't because of shoddy police work. That's because there wasn't one."

11:18 a.m. ET: Wolfson tells the jurors about the "justifiable use of deadly force."

"This defendant was not justified. He did not have a reasonable belief that Jordan Davis was about to kill him or cause great bodily harm," said Wolfson.

11:15 a.m. ET: "This defendant didn't tell anyone because he thought he had gotten away with murder," said Wolfson.

11:12 a.m. ET: Dunn said in his testimony that he was terrified when he returned to his hotel.

"If you're so terrified, why is your gun in the glove box? Oh, and by the way, when he left the scene of the gas station, he puts the gun in the glove box and drives off as if nothing happens. He didn't hold onto it -- what if this SUV comes back?" asked Wolfson.

11:11 a.m. ET: "This defendant shouldn’t get credit for the fact that he stayed in the state of Florida that night… he fled the scene and notified no one of what he had just done," said Wolfson. If the teens had something to hide -- like a shotgun -- then shouldn't they have been the ones to flee, Wolfson points out.

11:08 a.m. ET: "You only pull your gun out if you're going to use it. He didn't pull it out and show it off. He pulled it out, took aim and fired," said Wolfson. "Finally, his behavior after the fact shows what his intent was at the time. The conduct of the accused. He flees... I don't care if it's a mile, two miles, three miles, he left the scene of that Gate Station."

11:06 a.m. ET: "He just shoots over and over and over again," said Woflson. "This defendant had sufficient time to reflect on his actions."

11:04 a.m. ET: "He did not like Jordan Davis' response: 'Yeah, I'm talking to you.' This defendant was disrespected by a 17-year-old teenager and he lost it. He wasn't happy with Jordan Davis' attitude. What was his response? 'You're not going to talk to me that way,'" said Wolfson.

11:02 a.m. ET: "Every step in this process was under his [Dunn's] control. Every action he took was a conscious decision he made to escalate the situation and ultimately kill Jordan Davis," said Davis.

11:00 a.m. ET: "Premeditation -- three more shots into Tevin Thompson's door. A total of six, just on the passenger's side alone. Three more as the boys are pulling off, trying to save their lives," Wolfson said.

10:57 a.m. ET: Davis was laying down when the fatal bullet entered his body, according to Wolfson. She shows pictures of Davis' wounds to the jury.

10:54 a.m. ET: Wolfson shows a picture of the teens' vehicle and plays audio of the gunshots. She says there's no way Davis was outside the vehicle when he was shot.

10:51 a.m. ET: "He wasn’t shooting just to scare them him. He was shooting to kill. He was shooting for his targets and aiming at Jordan Davis," Wolfson said. "He intentionally engaged those boys and he’s the one who escalated that situation."

10:48 a.m. ET: "This defendant, when he pulled up next to that SUV, his blood started to boil. He didn’t like the music that was coming out of the car next to him. He got angrier and angrier as that music irritated him," Wolfson said. "This defendant went crazy. He got angry at the fact that a 17-year-old kid decided not to listen to him... When he pulled out his gun, he shot to kill."

10:45 a.m. ET: Wolfson describes the lesser included charges.

"Sending nine bullets into a car full of unarmed teenagers – that’s second-degree murder no doubt," she said.

10:42 a.m. ET: Wolfson walks through reasonable doubt and premeditated murder.

10:38 a.m. ET: Wolfson tells the jury that they have two questions to answer: Was the crime alleged committed? Was the defendant the person who committed the crime?

10:36 a.m. ET: "It was target practice for this defendant. They had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide," said Wolfson. She describes the three bullets that entered Davis' body.

10:34 a.m. ET: "Let me be very clear. On November 23, 2012, when this defendant shot and killed Jordan Davis, there was no gun in that Durango, there was no stick, there was no bat, there was no lead pipe, there was no gun," said prosecutor Erin Wolfson. "Jordan Davis didn’t stand a chance… As this defendant fired round after round after round into that car… systematically and methodically shooting into that SUV."

10:29 a.m. ET: The jury is being seated.

10:28 a.m. ET: The judge is back on the bench. Jordan Davis' parents are in the courtroom:

10:10 a.m. ET: The judge just announced that court will be in recess until 10:20 a.m. ET.

10:06 a.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar.

10:02 a.m. ET: The judge said yesterday that he expected closing arguments to begin around 10 a.m. ET. The attorneys, however, are still hashing out the language in the jury instructions.

9:57 a.m. ET: Looks like Dunn is wearing a suit today. When he took the stand yesterday he had a sweater over a collared shirt and tie.

9:52 a.m. ET: What's happening now in the courtroom as we wait for closing arguments to begin: Michael Dunn is present along with the judge and attorneys who are discussing what will be included in the jury instructions.

9:45 a.m. ET: Closing arguments are expected to begin at around 10 a.m. ET.

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