JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One of the jurors who found Michael Dunn guilty in one Jacksonville's most high-profile murder trials is sharing never before heard details of what went on during deliberations.
The judge kept the jurors' information confidential, and until now, none of them have spoken publicly. But Wayne Davis, the foreman, contacted News4Jax's Vic Micolucci and said he was ready to tell his story and reveal what it was like to be part of that trial.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make, it affected someone's life, you know its in our hands. But yeah we all believe we made the right decisions, we know we did, the facts were there. There is no second guessing. it was what it was," said Wayne Davis, known as Juror No. 1.
Michael Dunn is now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. From the beginning, Dunn claimed he fired at 17-year-old Jordan Davis and three other teens in an SUV at a Baymeadows Gate station on Black Friday 2012 because he felt threatened and thought he saw a gun.
A jury tried Dunn once and convicted him on three counts of attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle, but deadlocked on the murder charge.
"I did not know anything about Michael Dunn. And that was surprising, because when I came in, everyone had some kind of understanding of who he was. I had no clue who he was," the juror said.
The Jacksonville native would soon learn a lot about Dunn, the Central Florida man on trial a second time for killing Davis during an argument over loud music. After three days of jury selection, Davis became one of the 12 who would decide Dunn's fate.
Wayne Davis spoke with us about being sequestered.
"That was very interesting, because you couldn't tell anybody what you were doing. My wife knew I was on jury duty. All I could tell her was, 'I'll see you in a couple of weeks.' I couldn't tell her where I was going, where I would be, what the case was about," he said. "We just had to pack your stuff up, say goodbye and turn yourself in. We all got together and went under police protection."
"Before we ever heard one peep, we prayed together. Because we knew the ramifications. what we were about to participate in was going to be life altering for every body involved. Us, the family, the extended family of the victim, Michael Dunn, everybody is hurt out there," Davis explained. "We all started, it was our base, we asked for wisdom, to render a verdict that was the truth, because there's gonna be two sides to every story. We had to figure out what was the truth, who was telling the truth, and where that truth lies. And we all took it very, very seriously."
The jurors heard testimony from the three other teens in the SUV with Jordan, witnesses at the Gate gas station, police and the medical examiner. Dunn took the stand claiming self defense.
We asked Wayne Davis, "Did you ever believe that the defenses argument, that Michael Dunn actually saw a gun or something that looked like a weapon in the teenagers SUV?"
"We talked about that as a group and none of us ever believed there was gun," he responded. "All the testimony witnesses gave that the got out of the car and came around to check on their friend, no one ever saw anything that even looked like or resembled a gun."
And testimony from Dunn's former fiance was important, too.
"The biggest thing that she said was, when they asked her, did he ever make a phone call to the police friend that lived down in his neighborhood. He said he did call him, and said I need to talk to you. She said he never did. That made an impact because, someone is lying and someone is telling the truth. and we believed her," said the juror.
Wayne Davis points out after the shooting, Dunn drove his fiance back to their hotel, he walked the dog, ordered a pizza, poured some drinks, but didn't report what happened.
"He left and everybody else came back. He never called, he never called anybody to the scene, that he saw a gun, that he was in danger -- just left," he said.
We asked, "So if he called 911 that night, do you think it would have been a different case?"
"For me it would have factored in if he was guilty or not," said Wayne Davis.
The most difficult day for the jurors was when witnesses talked about Jordan's dying moments and the pictures of his body.
"That was the toughest day of the whole trial, was that," said Wayne Davis. "Just not being able to speak, we saw some things that were not a pretty sight. And the details, the pictures, we had to take it in because we were there to watch, to judge, to make a decision, so we had to watch every bit of it. And not being able to vet that, to let it out, was emotionally stressful for every juror. You could tell everybody was emotionally distraught."
After five days of sitting, watching and taking notes without saying a word, it was finally time for the jurors to have their say.
"Actually, it was kind of a relief, to express what we saw, what we heard, what we felt, what our notes had," said the juror. "So they actually picked me to be the foreman, so we started out with a chalk board, and everybody put up two questions that they wanted to talk about."
The foreman charged with organizing the others says everyone agreed Dunn was guilty. However, they debated if it was first or second-degree. As the day behind closed doors went on, 11 of the 12 saw it as first degree murder. One man held out.
"And he asked to see the police interview, the first interview he did while he was in south (central) Florida. The first video of when he interviewed with a police man. That was probably an hour and half long, and about 40 minutes in, he just blurted out, I'm on, I'm on board. He didn't say why he was, we just let it be that he was," explained Wayne Davis.
The jurors voted again and came up with a unanimous decision. After about 5 and a half hours of deliberations, they convicted Dunn of first degree murder.
So what solidified the guilty verdict of first-degree murder, a decision the jurors knew would put Dunn in prison for the rest of his life?
"From the judge's instructions of what premeditation was, it really came down to the all the steps he had to take to get to the gun, turn around and shoot that gun. They said there was no time limit for it, so we as a jury actually counted the amount of steps to get to that gun," Wayne Davis explained. "One, reach for the glove box. Two, open the glove box. Three, reach in. Four, pull it out. Five, pull it out of the holster. Six, cock it, Seven, turn around and shoot. All that is premeditation. Pretty much from that I had to render first degree. That's the law, whether I agree or not, whether I believe that or not, that is our law."
Wayne Davis says it's a tragedy for everyone involved. A tragedy he believes could have easily been avoided, had Dunn retreated and left the situation.
"All of us have pulled up to loud music before, whether it be rock and roll or rap music. He's a grown man, you're either roll the window up, or just ignore it, or find a different parking spot. As a grown man, he should not have done that, I know the aggravation he might have, its loud, he doesn't want to hear it. They're just kids, you're a grown man, you just deal with it," the jury foreman said.
He adds, he believes the justice system worked and believes Dunn not only got a fair trial, but got what he deserved.
"He did because our premise when we went back to the jury room was, Michael Dunn at this point is an innocent man, we have to decide to prove that he wasn't. and that is his right, as an American Citizen to be innocent until proven guilty. And it was proven by the state that he was guilty," he said.
The foreman says the jurors kept their composure throughout the whole trial. He says it was tough but they knew they couldn't let their emotions get the best of them and they had to be fair. At Dunn's sentencing hearing, when Jordan's parents spoke about the pain of losing their son, some of the jurors finally broke down and cried.
Months after delivering the verdict, Wayne Davis has no regrets about the verdict he and the other 11 jurors made.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make, it affected someone's life, you know its in our hands. But yeah we all believe we made the right decisions, we know we did, the facts were there. There is no second guessing. It was what it was," he said.
Since the trial, Wayne Davis says he and some of the other jurors have met with Jordan's parents. He's going join them Monday for Jordan Davis Day at the Jacksonville Landing.
Interestingly enough, Wayne Davis says not only does he share Jordan's last name, the two have the same birthday.
Dunn did briefly apologize about what happened during his sentencing hearing, but he and his parents have turned down all our requests for interviews, and they've never actually spoken to Jordan's parents.
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