Closing arguments in the murder trial of Michael Dunn,. the Fla. man who killed a 17-year-old after an argument over loud music, focused on whether Dunn was reasonable in thinking the teen was about to assault him, or if, as
prosecutor Erin Wolfson put it, “the threat was only in his imagination.”
Dunn, 47, is charged with first-degree murder in the death
of Jordan Davis, and three counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting
into a car of teenagers at the Gate gas station in Jacksonville on Nov. 23,
Dunn took the stand Tuesday and testified that he was “fighting
for his life” when he opened fire on the red Dodge Durango whose loud music had
initially sparked his ire. He told jurors that inside the SUV he saw two teens
with “menacing expressions” and what he thought was the barrel of a gun
sticking up above the back passenger windowsill where Davis was sitting, as the
two exchanged words.
The two teens in the car with Davis when the argument began
testified that over the one minute and 38 seconds between when Dunn rolled down
his window to ask the teens to turn down their music and when he started
shooting, Jordan Davis became increasingly agitated, cursing at Dunn and said
he didn’t want to be told what to do. They admitted that, before he grabbed his
gun, Dunn seemed calm, and did not curse.
Dunn testified that Davis cracked open the door and said, “you’re
dead, b***h” and that he thought, “my death is imminent.”
Prosecutors called the medical examiner who testified that
the angle of the bullets that hit Davis and the SUV indicated that Davis was
sitting when he was shot, and that the door was closed when the shooting began.
“The defendant intended to kill any and all of them,” said
prosecutor Wolfson. “He wasn’t shooting just to scare them off, he was shooting to kill.”
In her closing, Wolfson pointed out that although Dunn
testified that Davis threatened him with statements like “this s**t is going
down now,” Dunn did not tell detectives that. She also made much of Dunn’s
girlfriend’s testimony that Dunn never mentioned to her that he thought he had
seen a gun in the Durango.
“There was no gun in that Durango,” said Wolfson. “What was
in that Durango were four teenage boys.”
Wolfson also pointed out that Dunn left the scene after the
shooting and, even after he saw on the news that he had killed someone, did not
contact police. He and his girlfriend ordered a pizza, walked their dog, and
the next morning began driving home.
“Those are not the actions of somebody who shot in
self-defense,” said Wolfson.
Dunn’s defense attorney, Cory Strolla, raised questions
about the investigation, focusing on the fact that the police didn’t search the
parking lot the Durango escaped to after the shooting, for more than five days.
Strolla has raised the possibility that the teens threw a weapon out of the car
in the three minutes between leaving the gas station and coming back for help. No
gun or weapon was ever found and all three teens testified that there was no
weapon in the car. Witnesses from the gas station said the Durango was gone for less than three minutes.
Strolla said that the state’s contention that Dunn became so
angry so quickly over something as trivial as loud music was unbelievable.
“This man’s got a reputation for peacefulness,” said
Strolla. “But now his blood’s gonna boil because a teenager tells him ‘f- you’?
Does that make sense? A man who’s never pulled his gun in 40-plus years?”
Strolla read to the jury from Florida’s self-defense
statute, saying that Dunn would have been justified in killing Davis “to
prevent an attempted murder…or an attempted assault.”
“The danger facing Mr. Dunn need not have been actual,” he
said. “That’s the standard that’s our law and whether you like the law or don’t
like the law, you have to use the law.”
Prosecutor John Guy got the last word, telling the jury: “That defendant didn’t shoot into a car full of kids to
save his life, he shot into it to preserve his pride.”
Fla. defense attorney and former prosecutor Mitch Stone told CBS News’ Crimesider that while he thinks the prosecution may have over-charged the case in trying for first-degree murder, the fact that Dunn left the scene of the shooting and never called police undermines his claim of self-defense.
“The difference between George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn is that Zimmerman stayed at the scene and started explaining himself immediately,” said Stone. “Had Dunn stayed at the gas station and waited for police…I think he would be in much better shape.”