JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A judge has denied bond for murder suspect Michael Dunn less than a week after a hearing was held, meaning he will remain in jail until trial.
Dunn, 46, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Gate gas station in November. Investigators say a dispute over loud music sparked the shooting.
Dunn appeared in court last Tuesday for a three-hour hearing that was filled with character witnesses called by the defense.
On Monday, Judge Suzanne Bass found the state met the "burden to show the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great."
The ruling was based on an affidavit of a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective's investigation into the killing. Bass found the information in the affidavit "conclusive and beyond question of doubt."
Dunn's lawyer, Cory Strolla, said his client fired at a SUV full of teenagers in self-defense. Strolla said Dunn has no violent criminal background and would ideally be kept under house arrest with GPS monitoring if granted bond.
State Attorney Angela Corey asked the judge to keep Dunn behind bars until the case is decided.
John Phillips, the Davis family's attorney, told Channel 4 Monday night that Jordan Davis' parents broke down in tears when they heard that Dunn would remain behind bars leading up to trial.
"There's been a lot of moments where I've been at a loss for words," said Phillips. "Which for a trial lawyer is tough, and today it's been an emotional day."
The decision was a bittersweet victory for Davis' family and the attorney, Phillips said.
"It's a relief to know that especially for Leland and Tevin and the one's who survived, that Michael Dunn isn't going to be walking the streets," said Phillips.
Davis' parents said Dunn would be a danger if let loose and could be a flight risk because he not only owns a plane, but fled the scene without calling police or rescue the night of the killing and then returned to his home in Brevard County.
The affidavit released last Wednesday is from a deposition with Marc Musser, the lead detective in the case. In it, he says that Dunn admitted to shooting into the red Dodge Durango that Davis and his friends were in that night.
The detective says in the affidavit, "Michael Dunn stated he shot because he was in fear for his life. He stated he saw the barrel of a shotgun as Jordan Davis started to exit the red Dodge Durango. However, when advised no weapon was located in the red Dodge Durango he stated he saw either a barrel or a stick."
The detective also says a witness told him he "heard the white male say, 'You are not going to talk to me like that,'" before firing at least nine shots into the passenger side of the SUV from a squatting position. According to the affidavit, the SUV was trying to leave the parking lot when Dunn began firing.
According to the affidavit, two witnesses said two of the occupants of the SUV drove about 400 feet away from the original position and got out of the vehicle after the shooting.
The witnesses said they thought the people in the SUV had done the shooting and were trying to "stash" evidence, but later told police they never saw either person in possession of a weapon or take anything out of the SUV.
The teen driver of the SUV then drove the vehicle back to the gas station parking lot about 90 seconds later, where it remained until police arrived, according to the affidavit. Dunn and his fiance had driven off, according to the affidavit.
The other three teens in the SUV told police there was no weapon in the vehicle, and Davis had nothing in his hands when he started arguing with Dunn, according to the affidavit.
Dunn remains in the Duval County jail. He will be back in court April 9th, where the judge could issue a trial date.
Channel 4 contacted Cory Strolla, Dunn's attorney for comment on Monday night. Phone calls to Strolla's office were not returned.
Legal expert and criminal defense attorney Richard Kuritz, who isn't associated with Dunn's case, told Channel 4 that bond is rarely issued in murder cases. Kuritz was also quick to point out with Dunn's freedom on the line, this ruling could actually help expedite the legal process.
"You want to try to get your client out, because maybe if he's out he can assist you with things," said Kuritz. "Maybe help you with the discovery process, so your client in addition to not wanting to be in jail, could help you in some level with it."
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