JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A judge heard arguments Monday morning on a request to delay Michael Dunn's sentencing on his three attempted murder convictions, but denied a motion for a new trial. He did rule that defense attorney Cory Strolla can withdraw from the case after sentencing.
Dunn, 47, could face at least 60 years in prison on his conviction last month on charges related to firing into an SUV containing four teenagers who were playing loud music. Dunn claimed he felt his life was in danger when he fired 10 shots at the vehicle and claimed self defense. The jury deadlocked on the charge of murder in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
The motion requests the sentencing be delayed until he is retried on the murder charge. Strolla said Dunn cannot speak on his own behalf until the Davis charge is resolved.
Prosecutors say there's no provision under state law to delay the sentencing, which is scheduled for March 24. The retrial is tentatively scheduled for May.
"I've never had a hung jury," Judge Russell Healey said at Monday's hearing, adding that he had never had a case with similar circumstances in 150 trials.
Healey set a 10 a.m. Friday hearing at which he is likely to rule on the motion to delay sentencing.
Healey did grant Strolla's motion to withdraw from the case after sentencing, citing "slight irreconcilable differences" with his client. The local public defender's office cannot represent Dunn because it represented two of the other teens in the car who testified in the original trial, so Waffa Jamal Hanania, of the Florida Office of Regional Conflict, was appointed to handle Dunn's retrial.
Hanania has been a member of the Florida state bar since 1991. Early in her career she worked in the public defender's office. The Office of Regional Conflict said she'd be out of the office for the next two weeks.
Strolla cited financial issues and "slightly irreconcilable differences" for the request to withdraw. He said Dunn's first trial is responsible for "almost bankrupting their personal business and only means of financial support."
The attorney for Jordan Davis' family, John Phillips, said he was not surprised by Strolla's decision.
"I think he's kind of indicated from Day One that he may withdraw, and, you know, we just hope it doesn't derail this for another year," Phillips said. "That's the concern."
Legal analyst Ed Birk said the differences between Strolla and Dunn may have led to a mutual decision to separate.
"We can surmise that Mr. Dunn is unhappy with the outcome of the trial," Birk said.