Michael Dunn, the Florida man who shot and killed a teenager over loud music coming from the teen’s car, has asked that his conviction be overturned and wants a new trial, the Florida Times-Union is reporting.
Focusing largely on technicalities and procedural mistakes, Dunn’s lawyers argued Tuesday before a three-judge panel that Dunn deserves a new trial. Specifically, the attorneys argued, prosecutors during Dunn’s original trial failed to properly refute Dunn’s claim that the teenager whom Dunn shot had threatened Dunn’s life, and that a witness for the prosecution overstepped her bounds during her testimony.
— JET magazine (@GetJETmag) June 8, 2016
On November 23, 2012, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Dunn, a gun collector who was in town for his son’s wedding, shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis at a Jacksonville convenience store. Dunn pulled up in his SUV and parked next to a Dodge Durango occupied by Davis and his companions. Dunn took exception to the loud music coming from Davis’ vehicle, and the two “exchanged words.”
What happened next is unclear.
Dunn would later testify that he asked Davis and his companions to turn down the music, and that they complied. However, Davis, sitting in the back seat of the Durango, didn’t appreciate being told to turn the music down and told his companions to turn it back up. Dunn testified that Davis threatened to kill him and opened up the door of the vehicle, holding a shotgun.
Davis’ companions, however, dispute that claim, and said that Davis never opened the door and that there were no guns in the vehicle — a statement corroborated by police. A witness would later testify that he heard Dunn yelling, “You’re not going to talk to me that way!” That same witness said that he or she did not hear Davis threatening to kill Dunn, and no other witnesses heard any such threats, either.
Dunn, nevertheless, fired several shots into the vehicle, striking and killing Davis, The other occupants of the vehicle were not injured.
Dunn and his girlfriend fled the scene — Dunn would later testify that he believed he had encountered gang members and was afraid that more would turn up. He was arrested at his home the next day due to witnesses having been able to record his license plate number.
Dunn invoked Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, a provision that basically allows someone to use lethal force if they sincerely believe that they are in danger. It was the same legal argument that Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman used.
— anne hillebrand (@annehillebrand2) June 6, 2016
In fact, at the time of Davis’ shooting, the crime drew comparisons to the Trayvon Martin shooting, according to Time. In both cases, according to Time, the shooter was an armed, white male and the victim was an unarmed black teenager. And in both cases, the shooters invoked the “Stand Your Ground” defense on possible shaky circumstances.
Dunn was later convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder, and sentenced to life in prison plus 90 years. He remains in prison to this day.
During Dunn’s trial, forensic pathologist Stacey Simons’ testimony included her thoughts on whether or not Davis opened his door. Dunn’s attorneys say that testimony should never have been allowed because she is not an accident-scene reconstructionist. Dunn’s attorneys want that testimony thrown out and Dunn to be given a new trial.
Whether or not Dunn will be given a new trial remains to be seen. In general, according to Florida Times-Union writer Larry Hannan, appellate judges generally rule on whether or not to grant new trials in criminal cases “a couple of months” after hearing arguments.
[Photo by AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Self, Pool]