JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seconds after 17-year-old Jordan Davis was shot outside a Gate gas station in November, a man was leaving The Loop restaurant with his sister and son next door.
He heard the gunshots and called police, telling the dispatcher he saw the driver and passenger get out of the red Dodge Durango that was carrying Davis and three other teens.
"One was on his cellphone looking back, and it looked like they were pretty much just -- I don't know if they were trying to stash something in the car or look for something or what, but it looked like they got out, kind of brushed themselves off and then they got back in," the witness told a 911 dispatcher.
That comment, suggesting the teens could have stashed a weapon, is likely what defense attorneys for murder suspect Michael Dunn will latch onto in this case. Dunn is accused of firing into the teens' SUV several times during a dispute over loud music.
In his sworn statements to the state attorney's office the following month, the man from The Loop clarified that he did not see the men try to hide anything.
"Just so it's clear, the whole time you saw the vehicle, you never saw them throw anything out of the vehicle?" an investigator asked.
"Correct," the man said.
"And you never saw any weapons of any kind?" the investigator asked.
"Correct," the man said.
Police never found a weapon either, but by their own admission, investigators didn't do a comprehensive search of the crime scene, including rooftops, until four days later.
Attorney John Phillips, who's representing Davis' family, said that at the time of the shooting, the man from the restaurant did not know Davis and his friends' involvement in the shooting.
"They're trying to perceive what's going on," Phillips said. "The two boys happen to get out to check on their dying friend. In the 911 call they say they may have been checking on the vehicle or stashing something, but they were pretty clear in the witness interviews they weren't stashing anything. They don't know why they said that."
Police said the teens pulled out of the gas station toward The Loop, got out, and then reversed back to the gas station.
"The vehicle was either observed by witnesses or impounded by police, so anything in that vehicle would have still been in that vehicle or probably still be in that vehicle, and it's been combed through," Phillips said.
He said the bottom line -- and he's adamant about it -- is Davis and his friends did not have a weapon in their SUV.
"It's just frustrating," Phillips said. "This whole conspiracy theory that the boys left the scene and hid a gun was shot down once. We proved it. The state proved it. So now to have to deal with it again when it's absolutely preposterous, and it's disgraceful, is offensive."
Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, could not be reached for comment Monday. As promised, he has re-filed motions asking for his client's bond to be set and for Dunn to be declared indigent.
Also Monday, Judge Mallory Cooper recused herself from the case, and Judge Russell Healey was appointed. Healey is the third judge on the case.
"Jordan's parents and I were to surprised to learn about the recusal of Judge Cooper," Phillips said in a statement late Monday afternoon. "Judges often have schedule and personal conflicts, which cause them to step down. Judge Healey is a learned trial judge. We respect and support him and hope he will keep the pace of this case as set by the judges before him and have a jury decide this matter, as scheduled, in September/October."
Dunn will be back in court July 8.