JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thursday afternoon, prosecutors and defense attorneys laid out their different versions of the November 2012 night that a middle-age software engineer from central Florida fatally shot a 17-year-old teen during an argument over loud music outside a Southside convenience store.
Later in the day, the first seven witnesses for the state testified before court was recessed for the day.
Just after noon, Judge Russell Healey invited the jury into court, had them sworn in and thanked them for their service. He instructed them to not treat statements by the lawyers in the case as facts, or not to view any media coverage of the trial or discuss the case among themselves.
Assistant State Attorney John Guy presented the state's opening statement, giving a moment-by-moment account of the events of Nov. 23, 2012, the night Michael Dunn confronted Jordan Davis and three other teenagers parked in an SUV next to his car about loud music coming from her car.
Guy said the teens were heading to the Avenues Mall when they stopped at the Gate gas station on Southside Boulevard at Baymeadows Road. He said Dunn was there with his girlfriend after leaving his son's wedding, and the music coming from the teens' SUV was loud.
"Jordan Davis is 5 feet 11 inches tall, 145 pounds. The defendant is 6-4 and well over 200 (pounds)," Guy said. "But Dunn and Davis exchanged F-bombs back and forth. The defendant rolled down his window again and said, 'Are you talking to me?' And Davis said, 'Yeah, I am.' The defendant said,
Guy said Dunn's actions were deliberate, and after firing the first shots at the unarmed teens, he said the driver of the SUV Davis was in pulled out to protect the other teens.
"Tommie Stornes backed up and pulled as fast as he could into adjacent parking lot, but the defendant pulled the trigger three more times," Guy said.24286554
Guy told the jury Dunn fired a total of 10 shots into the Dodge Durango, killing Davis. When Dunn's girlfriend returned from the store, they drove away.
Guy ended his 28-minute opening statement by saying that over the course of the trial, the evidence shown will be sufficient to find Dunn guilty of one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Next up, defense lawyer Cory Strolla told the jury in his opening statement that the three surviving teenagers in the car will admit that it was Davis that used curse words in the confrontation, and that the music was so loud, they don't know for sure if Davis threatened Dunn.
Strolla also raised the possibility that when the SUV backed out of the parking space and stopped more than 100 feet away before returning, the teenagers might have ditched a shotgun or other weapon that Dunn thought he saw through the window.
"You've got two men from the SUV fumbling in the back, looking like they're stashing something," Strolla said. "Not doing a roll call, not, 'Oh my God, our friend has been shot!'"
Strolla said the homicide detectives and state attorney's investigators botched the case and never checked the adjacent parking lot until four days later, and that's likely why a weapon was never found.
"Law enforcement didn't care, the state attorney's office didn't care," Strolla said.
"The first officer on scene knew the SUV left, but they didn't check anywhere, (that the) boys made phone calls and people came to that parking lot," Strolla said. "For days, not one officer checks the parking lot, Dumpster, anything. That entire parking lot had been exposed to the public."
He also noted that none of the teenagers in the vehicle called 911 until they returned to the front of the Gate station.
Strolla said the jurors must leave sympathy for Davis' family out of it and they'll find out his client was only defending himself.
"Dunn had every right under the law to not be a victim, to be judged by 12, not carried by six," Strolla said.
Forty minutes after he began, Strolla ended his statement saying: "There's only one just and lawful verdict, and that verdict will be not guilty."
Following opening statements, prosecutors called their witnesses. First to testify was Davis' girlfriend, Aliyah Harris, who saw him the night he was killed. Then it was Steven Smith, who saw the shooting.
"The driver (fired the shots). Shots were fired at the Durango," Smith said. "The Durango backed out and took off toward Southside Boulevard."
Andrew Williams tried CPR on Davis.
"I pulled up to the car and a young man had been hit," Williams said. "He wasn't moving. And another young man was crying."
And Shawn Atkins, in prison for burglary, took down Dunn's license plate number on a paper bag.
After court ended Thursday, Davis' parents said they felt good about what happened and realize Strolla is doing his job in reference to his opening statements, saying Davis was the aggressor.
The proceedings began one day after a panel of 12 jurors and four alternates was seated to hear the closely watched case with similarities to the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The jury chosen includes of five white women, three black women, an Asian woman and an Indian or Middle Eastern woman, along with five white men and a Hispanic man. Jurors will not be told who the alternates are until just before they begin deliberations at the end of the trial -- likely late next week.
There were dozens of members of the media, lots of police officers in the area, and several demonstrators in front of the courthouse as the trial was set to begin.
Some of the demonstrators were also in Sanford for the George Zimmerman trial in the death of Trayvon Martin.
"The same issues are at play," Dave Schneider said. "Justice wasn't served for Trayvon Martin, and I think everyone in Jacksonville has strong concerns that with Angela Corey at hand, justice will be served in yet another killing of a young black man. And we are out here today because one way or another we want to make sure that Michael Dunn spends the rest of his life in prison."
Corey has said she will not comment about the case at all outside of the courtroom.
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