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Michael Dunn's second murder trial begins with jury selection

First jury deadlocked in case resulting from death of Jordan Davis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The retrial of Michael Dunn in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis began Monday morning with prosecutors and defense attorneys beginning to screen 100 potential jurors.

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In February, 12 jurors found Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder for firing a dozen shots into an SUV full of teenagers during a confrontation outside a Southside Gate convenience store in November 2012. The panel however, deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge in Davis' death.

Judge Russell Healey is allowing jury selection to begin, but said he reserves the right to grant a defense motion to move the trial out of Jacksonville if there is difficultly seating an impartial panel.

About 10:30 a.m., the jury pool was brought in, then individual interviews began, with the judge asking each about their knowledge and any opinions they may have of this case. Three jurors said they knew Dunn or one of the lawyers or witnesses in the case.  

A few of jurors said they might have a problem being impartial based on media coverage of the case. Healey said he understands that "No one lives in a vacuum."

"No matter what you read or saw, can you set it aside and sit as a juror in the courtroom and render a verdict based on what you see and hear in the courtroom, not in the media?" the judge told the jurors.

Healey said he hoped a jury could be seated in three days and said the juror could be sequestered during the trial.

Michael Dunn waits to enter courtroom during his first trial in February.
Michael Dunn waits to enter courtroom during his first trial in February.

Once testimony begins, prosecutors are expect to call many of the same witnesses: the other three teenagers in the car, Gate employees, police officers and the medical examiner.

The defense is led by a new, court-appointed attorney, Waffa Hanania, and there are new names on the list of witnesses who could be called to testify on behalf of Dunn.

Levar Floyd, who was locked up in the Duval County jail at the same time as Dunn, may be called for the defense.

State vs. Michael Dunn:  Latest coverage, video/evidence from first trial

Another name on the defense testimony list is Trey Brunson, assistant pastor at First Baptist Church. There's no indication of how he is connected to Dunn or why he might be called.

Court observers do expect Dunn to testify again, since what he said on the stand in February apparently convinced some of the jurors that he shot Davis because he thought he saw a gun in the SUV, felt his life was threatened and thought he was defending himself.

"I just saw him (Davis) get out and the shotgun isn't sticking out anymore. This is the point where I though he was going to kill me or beat me," Dunn testified. "What when through my mind is that this was a clear and present danger, and I say, 'You are not going to kill me you son of a (expletive)' as I was retrieving my pistol in my glove box."

Police who processed the scene after the shooting found no gun in or around the SUV.

Prosecutors no doubt will again call Dunn's fiancee at the time, Rhonda Rouer, who testified during the first trial that Dunn never told her he saw a gun that night.

VIDEO:  Michael Dunn's fiancee says he told her when they pulled up next to the SUV Jordan Davis was riding in.
VIDEO: Michael Dunn's fiancee says he told her when they pulled up next to the SUV Jordan Davis was riding in.

Prosecutor: "Once you got back into the car after leaving the gas station, did Dunn ever tell you he saw a weapon of any kind in the SUV?"
Rouer: "No."
Prosecutor: "No mention of a stick?"
Rouer: "No."
Prosecutor: "Shotgun?"
Rouer: "No."
Prosecutor: "Lead pipe?"
Rouer: "No."

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What isn't known is whether the new defense attorney will call the victim's father, Ron Davis, to testify. During the first trial, defense attorney Cory Strolla tried to get the elder Davis to say he met with the other boys in the SUV to try to get all their stories straight  -- something he and prosecutors vehemently denied.

A pool of more than 100 potential jurors reported to the Duval County Courthouse on Monday morning to begin the process. Healey banned news cameras from the courtroom during jury selection, but reporters will be allowed to observe the process.

Outside the courthouse, Davis' parents spoke to demonstrators gathered to call for "Justice for Jordan."

"But the verdict and the justice we seek will always and only come from God," said Jordan's mother, Lucy McBath.

Dunn has yet to be sentenced for the February convictions. Regardless of the outcome of the retrial, it is doubtful Dunn will ever get out of prison as he faces up a minimum of 60 years in prison -- 20 years for each of the three attempted murder convictions.


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