After four days of deliberations, a Jacksonville, Florida, jury found Michael Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of shooting or throwing a deadly missile, but couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on the most serious charge of first-degree murder in the death of Jordan Davis.
The verdicts were read at around 7 p.m. ET Saturday in court. Dunn didn't show any emotion as each verdict was read. Earlier Saturday afternoon, jurors said they had reached a verdict on four of five counts, but they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Count 1, which is the first-degree murder charge -- or any of the lesser offenses related to it. Judge Russell Healey instructed the jurors to continue deliberating in hopes of breaking the deadlock.
After jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on the first-degree murder count, a mistrial was declared on that count. State Attorney Angela Corey has already announced prosecutors plan to retry Dunn on the murder charge.
"Justice for Jordan Davis is as important as it is for the victim," Corey said.
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After the verdicts were read, Lucia McBath, Davis' mother, said her family is "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," she said. "And I've asked my family to pray for him."
Even though Dunn was not found guilty of first-degree murder, Dunn will likely face 75 years in prison after being convicted on the other counts. 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 shooting conviction.
The jury had been weighing the fate of the 47-year-old Dunn, who's accused of shooting a SUV with black teens after he asked them to turn down their music. Davis, 17, died in the shooting.
Earlier in the day, Healey acknowledged the jury was "struggling, obviously." Roughly 30 minutes into their deliberations Saturday, jurors asked Healey three questions:
1) Is the defense of self-defense separate for each person in each count?
2) Are we determining if deadly force is justified against each person in each count?
3) If we determine deadly force is justified against one person, is it justified against the others?
Healey replied yes to the first two questions, but no to the third, saying "self-defense and justifiable use of deadly force use applies separately for each count." Healey then sent the jury of four white females, two black females, four white males, an Asian female and a Hispanic male back to the jury room.
Dunn pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, which also included three counts of attempted murder related to three others -- Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson and Tommie Stornes -- who were in the vehicle with Davis but survived the shooting.
Dunn had just left his son’s wedding on November 23, 2012, when he pulled into a gas station so his fiancée could grab some white wine and chips. The vehicle next to him -- a red Dodge Durango -- began to play music so loud that Dunn said it vibrated his rearview mirror.
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Dunn, who took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday, said he asked the teens, “Can you turn that down, please?”
The response he said he received from one them -- Jordan Davis -- was full of expletives like, “I should kill that mother f****r” and “You’re dead, b***h.”
Dunn also claimed he saw Davis reach down and slam what Dunn described as a shotgun barrel against the vehicle’s door.
Dunn said he didn’t reach for his pistol, which was stored in his glove box, until allegedly seeing the teen open his door and say, “This s**t’s going down now.”
“This is the point where my death is imminent, he’s coming to kill me, he’s coming to beat me,” Dunn testified. “He made it clear what his intentions were."
Nine of Dunn’s bullets pierced the vehicle, with six landing in the right-side doors.
The three survivors of the shooting took the stand earlier for the prosecution and had a different story to tell. They agreed that their music was blaring so loud it vibrated their windows, but said Davis never threatened Dunn or tried to exit the vehicle. They also said that there were no weapons inside the SUV. Police have said they never recovered weapons from the teens’ vehicle.
In her closing argument Wednesday, prosecutor Erin Wolfson told jurors that Dunn opened fire in anger, not 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."
Sunday would have been Davis' birthday, a fact not lost on his mother.
Tomorrow is my boy's 19th birthday. I pray we will celebrate not only him but a just and righteous verdict. Patiently we wait.
— Lucia Kay McBath (@lucymcbath) February 15, 2014
The case has drawn national parallels with the Trayvon Martin case. Martin and Davis were unarmed, young black males shot dead during a dispute. Martin, 17, was shot dead on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman was acquitted in Martin's death.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Martin's parents, released a statement Saturday to Jordan Davis' family: "Nelson Mandela once said, "may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." The killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis is yet another reminder that in Florida, racial profiling and stereotypes may serve as the basis for supposititious fear and the shooting and killing of young teenagers. No matter the verdict, the fact that Ron and Lucia will never see their son again will not change; we know that pain all too well. We walk with Jordan in defining his legacy to reflect our hopes by advancing love and tolerance in his memory, and continuing the fight against unjust gun laws."