The 47-year-old was successfully retried for first-degree murder after the jury in the original trial could not agree with whether or not to convict him for fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
As onlookers await Dunn’s sentencing, some wonder whether or not the outcome was as much about guilt or innocence as it was a statement on race-based crimes in the United States.
Dunn’s daughter Rebecca dismissed claims of racism against her father.
“We would not be supporting [Michael] if we knew him to be a bad man,” she said. “He’s not a racist. He’s very loving.”
Those who lived near the Satellite Beach, Fla. native disagreed very strongly with what his daughter said. Michael Dunn’s neighbor Charles Hendrix described him as “egotistical and arrogant” during an interview with CNN.
Hendrix called him a very “angry man,” the kind of man who by his nature could be violent if he was strongly displeased with something.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 2, 2014
That description would explain why Dunn continued to fire at a carload of terrified teenagers as they drove away. It was this piece of evidence that a jury decided could not be ignored.
Michael Dunn claimed self-defense, but the jury could not move beyond the fact that he continued to fire at the departing vehicle. This apparently signaled the intent necessary to find Dunn guilty of first-degree murder.
Although anger and egotism were used as descriptive words, much of public perception rested on a sense that Dunn is a bigot.
— FCN2go (@FCN2go) January 31, 2014
This is likely due to the inevitable comparisons made to the highly controversial George Zimmerman trial which occurred a year ago. Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
It was the same defense used by Dunn. Some were worried that the outcome of this trial would continue a narrative where the future murders of unarmed black teens will be considered justified, so long as the murderers claim they fear for their lives.
The conviction of Michael Dunn could do much to alleviate that fear.
At the same time, some wonder whether or not the conviction was meant to send a message that hate-based crimes can and will result in convictions.
During an exclusive interview with ABC News, one former juror said that race was not a factor when deliberating charges against Michael Dunn during the original trial.
Said Juror #4, “Sitting in that room, it was never presented that way. We looked at it as a bad situation […] where words were spoken and lines were crossed.”
[Image via mediaanarchist.wordpress.com]