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Michael Dunn jury instructions

It took nearly an hour for Judge Russell Healey to instruct the jury on all the possible legal outcomes of its deliberations of the murder charge against Michael Dunn.

Four possible verdicts

  • First-degree murder
  • Second-degree murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Not guilty - acquitted of any charge


Legal definition of first-degree murder:

  • Killing with premeditation is killing after consciously deciding to do so. Law does not fix the exact period of time, but it must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant.


Legal definition of second-degree murder:

  • Act is imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a deprived mind, is done with ill will and indifference to human life

Legal definition of manslaughter:

  • Defendant intentionally committed an act that caused a death


Possible reasons for acquittal

Justifiable homicide:

  • Killing of a human being done wile resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon the defendant


Excusable homicide:

  • When killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act with ordinary caution
  • When killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation
  • When killing is committed by accident and misfortune resulting from a sudden combat, if a dangerous weapon is not used and the killing is not done in a cruel or usual manner

  • OffenseMandatory sentencing
    ManslaughterMaximum of 15 years in prison; maximum of 30 years in prison if a firearm is used
    Second degree murderMaximum of life in prison; Minimum of 25 years if a firearm is used, otherwise a minimum of 10 years under sentencing guidelines for a person with a clean record.
    First degree murderDeath penalty or life without parole