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Jury selection underway in Michael Dunn trial

  • Michael Dunn is charged with first-degree murder for shooting teen Jordan Davis
  • Dunn is claiming self-defense and cites 'Stand Your Ground' law
  • Letters he wrote to friends and family while in jail could be crucial to case

Jury selection began Monday in the controversial murder trial of Michael Dunn, the 47-year-old software developer who fatally shot unarmed teen Jordan Davis in November 2012.

Dunn is accused of shooting and killing Davis after an argument over loud music in a gas station parking lot in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn claims the teen was threatening him, and he shot Davis in self-defense. Police never found a weapon on Davis or in the SUV he was in.

Before opening statements begin next week, HLN is taking a look back at everything that has led up to this moment, including stepping into Dunn's world behind bars. Twenty-five of his jailhouse letters have been released to the public, according to Jacksonville's WTEV.

While claiming in a letter to his grandmother that he's not a racist, Dunn repeatedly refers to Davis and his friends as thugs, and in a letter to his daughter he talks about how "the jail is full of blacks and they All act like thugs."

Here are a few excerpts from the letters.

In a letter to his grandmother (name redacted) on February 20:

            "I'm not really prejudiced against race, but I have no use for certain cultures. This gangster-rap, ghetto talking thug 'culture' that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable."

In a letter to Rhonda, his girlfriend, on June 14:

            "I just got off the phone with you and we were talking about how racist the blacks are up here. The more time I am exposed to these people, the more prejudiced against them I become."

In a letter to his daughter on July 12:

            "This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots when they're threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior."

In several letters, Dunn also talks about his desire to speed up the judicial process so he can go home and put this all behind him. In one letter he even outlines what he wants his attorney to do because things are moving too slowly for his taste.

HLN reached out to Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, for a comment about the letters, but we have not heard back.

Criminal defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant told HLN the letters show Dunn has a prejudice and could attest to his state of mind the night he killed Davis, who was African-American. 

Dunn is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder. He faces life in prison, if convicted.

For more on this story, watch Jane Velez-Mitchell weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on HLN. Follow the show on Facebook, and follow Jane on Twitter.

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