Michael Dunn jury to continue deliberations Thursday
Closing arguments: 2 versions of the death of Jordan Davis
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The jury in the trial of Michael Dunn will continue deliberations Thursday after deliberating for nearly three hours Wednesday evening.
After the prosecution said there was plenty of evidence to convict Dunn of first-degree murder and the defense pointed to several things that might create reasonable doubt among the jurors, the 12-member jury began deliberations at 5:03 p.m.
They submitted a question to the court about 7:40 p.m. asking to see the surveillance video from inside the convenience store that was played several times during the trial. That video contained the audio of the gunshots fired by Dunn.
In a note to the judge, the jury said they would like to see all 20 minutes of the video and all six camera angles, adding that they would like to break for the night and resume Thursday morning. Judge Russell Healey said deliberations would resume at 10 a.m.
The four alternate jurors were being kept overnight as well.
Prosecutors made their closing argument Wednesday morning in the murder trial of Dunn, saying 17-year-old Jordan Davis' shooting death was a deliberate act -- not an act of self-defense.
After the jurors entered the courtroom about 10:25 a.m., Judge Healey reminded them that what lawyers say is not evidence, but could be useful in understanding the facts of the case.
During her 90-minute argument, Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson played audio of the gunshots and showed images of the bullet holes in the SUV in which four teenagers were sitting the day after Thanksgiving 2012. She said not only is there no evidence there was a shotgun in that car, the physical evidence shows Davis was shot sitting in the backseat of his friend's Dodge Durango, not outside the SUV threatening Dunn.
"Ten rounds, nine of them hitting that car -- hitting this defendant's target. Three of those shots hit directly the target Dunn was aiming for (Jordan Davis)," Wolfson said. "There was no gun or weapon ever found. And it wasn't because of shoddy police work, it was because there wasn't one. The boys didn't have a gun."
Wolfson summarized, saying there is ample evidence to find Dunn guilty of first-degree murder.
"This defendant was disrespected by a 17-year-old teenager, and he lost it. He wasn't happy with Jordan Davis' attitude. What was his response? 'You're not going to talk to me like that,'" Wolfson said. "He took these actions because it was premeditated. It was not self-defense."
Wolfson ended her argument, saying: "Today is the day that you all as members of the jury can define what this defendant did on Nov. 23, 2012," Wolfson said. "He might have silenced Jordan Davis but cannot silence the truth."
After the jury's lunch break, defense attorney Cory Strolla began by reminding the jury that the burden of evidence is on the state to convict his client "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Strolla pointed out things he believes will instill such doubt, including remaining silent for three minutes to dramatize the amount of time the SUV was in the adjoining plaza before returning to the Gate parking lot -- which he said was plenty of time to get rid of a shotgun.
He also said detectives should have immediately gone to the area and searched, but waited five days.
Strolla argued that there were no signs Dunn was was in a bad mood, intoxicated or planning to do anything that night. He only asked the teens in the car to turn down the music, which they initially did, only to turn it back up again.
Strolla said Dunn only fired his gun when he saw Davis wielding a weapon from inside the Durango and felt threatened.
"He's had that gun for 20 years and never pulled it once," Strolla said. "He told you that nobody has ever scared him, no one has ever threatened him like that."
After Strolla's 75-minute closing, prosecutor John Guy used the state's rebuttal to tell the jury: "This case is not about self-defense, it's about self-denial."
"That defendant didn't shoot into a car full of kids to save his life. He shot into it to save his pride," Guy told the jury. "Jordan Davis didn't have a weapon, he had a big mouth."
When closing arguments concluded, the judge began delivering length jury instructions -- estimated to be 40 pages.
The attorneys and judge stayed more than three hours Tuesday evening finalizing the exact wording of those jury instructions, including what lesser charges such as voluntary manslaughter the jury will be allowed to consider, and how to explain Florida's statutes regarding justifiable homicide.
Judge Healey began reading the instructions to the jury about 3:45 p.m. -- a process that took just over an hour. Then four members of the 16 people chosen as jurors were excused and the 12 remaining retreated to pick a foreperson. About 15 minutes later, they had made a decisions and their deliberations officially began.
With the jury out of the courtroom, Healey addressed the four alternates, asking them to "stick around" in case one of them needed to be used to replace one of the primary jurors.