Jacksonville ready for Michael Dunn trial

Case gaining international attention

Author: Vic Micolucci, General assignment reporter, vic@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 30 2014 05:00:02 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 31 2014 12:36:09 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Come Monday, one of Jacksonville's highest-profile trials will be underway. The Michael Dunn murder case is garnering international attention.

Police say in November 2012, Dunn shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis during an argument over loud music outside a Southside gas station. Dunn claims self-defense.

Those involved in the case have been preparing for it for months. A unified command team has been assembled to make sure everyone is safe and the trial continues without a hitch.

"The city of Jacksonville is going to be in the national spotlight and we've done a lot of planning, and I'm confident that all of the groups and a representative here in the one set have been sitting down at the table with us, it is going to go off without a hitch," said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Chief Michelle Cook, who is the head of the unified command team.

JSO, the Duval County Clerk of Courts, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and other agencies have plans in place for the biggest trial Duval County's seen in a very long time. Cook said police don't expect any trouble, but there's the potential anything could happen, so officers and emergency workers are ready.

"We have a contingency plan in place that if we do need personnel, we can easily put our hands on them," Cook said.

Media from across the world have requested credentials to cover the trial. CNN, NBC National, Fox News, CBS, the Associated Press and Al Jazeera are all expected to be in the River City.

Attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters, who's not involved in the case, said it has sparked the interest of many.

"Everybody is waiting to see what is going to happen after we just finished seeing what happened in the George Zimmerman case. So that's No. 1," she said. "But you also have, obviously, some racial controversy with this case. You have a younger victim who brings a lot of sympathy with and within itself, when you're talking about a student."

Dunn's attorney is expected to make self-defense one of his main arguments. He's filed many motions, including one asking for a sequestered jury.

"They're saying that I don't want the jury to have any information that may taint their ability to hear these facts and be impartial once they hear the facts in this case," Peoples-Waters said.

Dunn's attorney is also asking the judge is to ban the word "victim" when referring to Davis. He thinks that could turn the jury against his client.

Jury selection starts at 9 a.m. Monday.

Cook said the public's requests for credentials will be taken Friday at the Prime Osborn Convention Center starting at 6 a.m. People can sign up and they'll be given access to get in the courtroom based on a daily lottery system.