Michael Dunn Trial #AskKemay
In November 2012, Michael Dunn opened fire on an SUV full of teenagers after a disagreement over loud music at a Jacksonville, Florida gas station. This incident resulted in the fatality of 17 year old Jordan Davis. Dunn has been charged with murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting or throwing missiles. Dunn states that he fired the gun to stop the attack but did not intend to end Davis’ life.
During the trial, the State argues that Dunn fired 10 shots. Three of those ten shots were fired while the SUV was driving away from the gas station. Instead of remaining in the car, Dunn opened the car door and began to open fire. Dunn claims to have seen a weapon, but he did not alert his fiancée Rhonda Rouer. He told detectives that he went back to his hotel and walked his dog, and later return to his home two hours away without calling 911. The State passionately argues, “There was NO GUN” in Davis’ possession and Dunn did not call the police because he believed he had gotten away with murder!
Davis took the stand to assert his defense. He states he saw Davis reach down and about “four inches of a 12 or 20 inch shotgun”. Dunn testified that Davis yelled “I’m going to kill you!” and Dunn feared for his life. Davis gets out of the car and Dunn testified that he thought “It’s going down now … he is coming to kill me”. In response, Dunn reached in his glove compartment, grabbed his pistol and dropped the holster at his feet. He began firing.
Will Dunn Be Found Not Guilty Too?!
The State rejects the argument that Dunn feared for his life. When the SUV was examined it shows the bullets were close together indicating the shooter was not nervous and hands were steady. Finally, the defense argues that there are NO WITNESSES. Dunn and his fiancé were returning from a wedding and there is no indication of a reason for a hatred filled exchange. There is a three minute window of the SUV leaving the gas station and returning which is enough time for the youth to have disposed of a weapon. Although the child locks were on, the Defense states that there is reasonable doubt because Davis could have used his hand through a window to get out of the back seat of the car to threaten Dunn.
In the state of Florida, pursuant to 776.013, a person is presumed to have reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another when:
- The person against whom defensive force unlawfully and forcefully entering a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
- The person against whom defensive force was used knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
- The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
- The person has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle
- The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of,
- The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity
- The is a law enforcement officer, who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
- A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, (deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
- A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence
We can all recall the Trayvon Martin case, in which, George Zimmerman fatally shot the youth during an altercation in his neighborhood. The jury found Zimmerman Not Guilty. In contrast, a Florida judge rejected the use of the Stand Your Ground defense when Marissa Alexander fired warning shots against her abusive husband. Recently, Curtis Reeves was arrested and charged with homicide after a fatal shooting over texting during “Lone Ranger” movie in Tampa Florida.
In this case, the main issue appears to be whether the danger Dunn felt was imminent. The facts are the Davis remained in the SUV in the back seat. Although there was undisputed heated exchange, the child locks were on in the vehicle. There is no evidence of a weapon or that Davis left the backseat of the vehicle to attack Dunn. Dunn shot ten times with steady hands into the SUV which resulted in the death of Jordan Davis. This means that he was shooting with purpose. Therefore his argument that his use of the gun was only to protect himself is not credible.
The jury has the final say in the case. We all have questions about what really took place at that gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately, it has taken several recent cases to consider possible repeal of the Stand Your Ground Laws in the state of Florida. A review does appear to be necessary to prevent misuse of the defense.