Jurors spent Thursday deliberating the trial of a white Florida man who shot and killed a black teenager after an argument over loud rap music — but went home for a second day without a verdict.
Michael Dunn, 47, a software engineer, claims he acted in self-defense when he fired ten rounds at an SUV with four teens inside while parked at a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station. His shots killed Jordan Davis, 17, of Marietta, Ga.
Dunn is charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder for the November 2012 shooting. His case, which has attracted international attention, has been compared to that of George Zimerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted in the death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
But experts say the defense team in Dunn's case faces a much bigger uphill battle than Zimmerman's attorneys did.
The jury of eight whites, two blacks, one Asian and one Hispanic had also deliberated for two hours on Wednesday, then asked the judge if they could review gast station security camera footage.
The video shows clerks inside the gas station convenience store reacting to the gunfire, and also show's Dunn's fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, who had gone into the store to purchase wine and chips.
Dunn had parked next to the Dodge Durango that Davis was in while Rouer went inside the convenience store. He says he asked the teens to turn down their music.
Dunn told the court on Tuesday the boys were yelling expletives and words like "cracker" after they turned down the stereo, and that he thought he saw one teenager reach for what he believed was a gun.
"He had every reason to stand his ground," defense lawyer Cory Strolla said Wednesday.
But prosecutors argued Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, was overzealous.
"This defendant does not get to claim self-defense," Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson said. "This defendant may have forever silenced Jordan Davis, but he cannot silence the truth."
Police say they did not find a weapon in the SUV after the shooting. Rouer, in testimony seen as key by some analysts, testified that Dunn did not mention that night that he had seen a gun, even though he later told police that was why he started shooting.
In a press conference Thursday, Strolla downplayed Rouer's testimony, blaming her distraught emotional state after the shooting.
"There's no way she's going to recall what my client said," Strolla told reporters.
The entire Dunn family is "heartbroken" by the situation, he added.
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published February 13 2014, 7:22 AM