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    GUILTY! Dunn Guilty of Most Charges, But Not Murder

    GUILTY! Dunn Guilty of Most Charges, But Not Murder

    Michael Dunn found guilty of three counts of attempted murder in the second degree, throwing missiles, but jury hangs on first degree murder of Jordan Davis

    Moments ago the jury returned a guilty verdict on many of the  charges brought against Michael Dunn in his ‘loud music” murder trial.  Dunn was tried in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

    REACTIONS:

    Davis family made brief comments to press, happy some closure, that Dunn will see serious jail time, that young people shouldn’t have to fear can just be gunned down for loud music.

    State Attorney Angela Corey absolutely determined to re-try Dunn on the hung first degree murder charge.

    ASA Erin Wolfson indicates Dunn faces 20 years on each attempted murder 2 conviction, and 15 years on the throwing missiles charge. Most likely these will be served concurrently, although sentencing judge has discretion to order they be run consecutively.

    Corey unwilling to say police made a mistake not searching the Plaza parking lot, praises Sheriff’s and detectives.

    Corey notes it still has to be a reasonable person standard to justify deadly force in self-defense.

    Some Pastor thanks Corey for doing a great job on behalf of young black men in Jacksonville.

    Corey: “There’s nothing political in what we do, we file on the facts and on the law.”

    Corey: “This was Erin’s first call-out on a homicide.” 

    Corey: “Nothing political about my participation in this case, do it for the love of it.”

    Why not the death penalty? Corey: “One of the things we weighed, decided 1st degree but not death penalty.”

    Strolla: Severely disappointed. Pretty much knew Corey was going to re-try on the murder.

    Strolla: Ran this on a shoe-string budget, big difference between a $300,000 defense and not even 1/10th of that. Hate to say it, but it’s true.

    Strolla: He COULD be sentenced to 60 years. If so, really looking at life sentence, he’s 40 years old.

    Jury Unable to Come to Verdict on Charge of Murder of Jordan Davis

    The jury was unable to agree on a verdict on the first count of murder in the first degree for the shooting death of Jordan Davis. As a result, this count is “hung,” and the State is free to try Dunn again on this charge at their discretion.

    Detailed Charges on Which Dunn Found Guilty

    Among the charges of which he has been found guilty are:

    Three counts of attempted murder in the second degree (FL §782.051) for shooting at Kevin Thompson, Leland Brunson, and Tommy Storns, the three friends with Jordan Davis in Storns’ SUV

    Throwing a missile into an occupied vehicle (FL §790.19) for firing into the SUV in which the boys were riding.

    Finally, because these felonies were committed with the use of a firearm, Dunn is also subject to Florida’s “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum sentencing law (FL §775.087), made infamous by the case of Marissa Alexander.

    Under the mandatory minimum sentencing scheme, Dunn faces mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years on each of the three counts of attempted murder and 15 years on the charge of throwing of missiles (because a gun was used Florida’s  “10-20-Life” statute bumps what would normally be a 2nd degree felony to a 1st degree felony)

    Because all the charges stem from a single set of acts, the sentences would likely be served concurrently, rather than consecutively, meaning in effect that Dunn would be sentenced to 20 years, the Florida norm. The sentencing judge has the discretion, however, to make the sentences consecutive, in which case Dunn would be looking at 75 years–effectively a life sentence for a ~40 year old. His sentencing may take place immediately, or at a separate sentencing hearing.

    Dunn’s Claim of Self-Defense Remains a Factor in Murder Charge

    Dunn had claimed self-defense as justification for his use of force,  based upon Florida statutes §776.012, §776.013, §782.02, amongst others, and as captured in Florida jury instruction 3.6(f) Justifiable use of deadly force. 

    Once Dunn had met his burden of production in getting self-defense submitted to the jury–which he managed to do only by taking the stand to testify on his own behalf–the State carried the burden of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Apparently at least one juror believed that the State had not met this burden with respect to the first count, the murder charge for the shooting death of Jordan Davis.  This will remain an issue if the State elects to re-try Dunn on that charge.

    Sentencing Scheduled for Week of March 24

    Dunn sent back to Sheriff’s for custody, sentencing tentatively scheduled for week of March 24, 2014, pre-sentencing report to be developed in the mean time.

    If sentences run concurrently, as is the norm in Florida, Dunn will face mandatory minimum of 20 years. If sentences run consecutively he could face 60 to 80 years.

    Implications for Self-Defense Immunity

    Had Dunn been acquitted he would also have been free  to seek self-defense immunity from civil suit under the relevant Florida statute, §776.032.  Whether he would have chosen to do so is questionable.  First, news reports indicate that he (or, more accurately, his insurers) settled all civil suits prior to his criminal trial.  Further, he is currently destitute–even his lawyer is not currently being paid–and so not much of a law suit target.

    Perhaps most important, however, is that it seems unlikely he would have emerged a winner from a self-defense immunity hearing, despite his acquittal.  An acquittal in a self-defense case does not automatically result in self-defense immunity.  In his criminal trial he need only sustain a reasonable doubt to prevent the State from overcoming his claim of self-defense.  At a self-defense immunity hearing he must convince the judge of self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, a much higher threshold it seems unlikely he could meet.

    Had Dunn been acquitted it would have raised some interesting questions in the realm of the law of self-defense. Can it be possible that one can kill another person, flee the scene, never report the matter to police until captured on a felony warrant, have no evidence of necessary self-defense other than one’s own self-serving statements, and be acquitted of the criminal taking of another life?

    So far, at least, it appears not.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


    Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.

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    Comments


    Bravo! Great job on the Teri OBrien Show, Andrew. You provided a clear synopsis of the case including the actual facts and legal aspects. You clearly stated your opinions based on your assessment of the facts and the law. Well done indeed.

      Very kind of you, thanks. For those who missed it, the Professor has kindly offered to host a copy of the audio here at Legal Insurrection. We’ll likely have that up within the next day or so, so keep your eyes open.

      Also, I’ll be a guest on a AM600 in San Diego (KOGO.com) on the Victoria Taft show tomorrow at 3:35 Boston time. You can listen live at that link, or we’ll also be posting the audio here afterwards.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


       
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      Baker in reply to Baker. | February 16, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      PS
      For those of you who missed the live broadcast Andrew provides a link to the archives of the Teri OBrien Show on his blog. I’m not sure how soon the archive will be posted but the interview is well into the show (likely somewhere around the 50 minute mark I would think). I have followed the trial closely through this blog, Andrew’s tweets, and viewing a significant amount of the live courtroom feeds so I didn’t hear anything new about the facts or Andrew’s personal assessments. I found it interesting, however, just to compare the interview and opinions to the drivel we are often exposed to coming from the so-called experts in the media who frequently can’t even get the actual facts right in their first sentence and then go on to give us their questionable assessments.

        Haha, thanks, Baker.

        For those who can’t wait to hear my dulcet tones, she also had me on immediately following the Zimmerman trial, back on July 21, 2013. I might have been a little drunk that time, not sure. I was in pretty good spirits. 🙂

        Andrew Branca Talks Zimmerman, Self-Defense Law on Teri O’Brien Show (http://is.gd/C3uPPW).

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


     
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    CreatedEqual | February 16, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    With the recent hung jury on the murder one charge for Michael Dunn, this could apply to anyone living in Florida or those other states that have “Stand Your Ground” laws in place. Imagine if you will, to any one of you, that your youngster is riding in a car or walking along the sidewalk with others and gets into a verbal confrontation with a different bystander and that bystander feels threatened and shoots and kills your youngster. The bystander is arrested and argues that your youngster appeared to show a knife or firearm and the bystander felt threatened and feared for his/her life and the reason why he/she shot and killed your youngster.

    It could very well be any racial category that is faced with this predicament.

    How would any one of you answer that hypothetical?

      Given that your hypothetical is based on an imaginary version of SYG that does not exist in the real world, I’ll defer to the unicorns and goblins of your imagination to bring you the answer.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


       
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      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to CreatedEqual. | February 17, 2014 at 3:40 am

      What I would teach my son before any of this happened is not to start confrontations. If you are in a situation where it looks like a confrontation is inevitable, do everything you can to prevent the confrontation. If a confrontation is inevitable do what you have to do to end it as quickly and safely as you can
      with the least amount of force necessary.

      You do anything else for you whole life, you will eventually get killed by someone.


       
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      BrokeGopher in reply to CreatedEqual. | February 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

      The standard for self-defense is not, and never has been, “feels threatened.” This is a fantasy term invented by the media to sensationalize these stories.


       
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      Immolate in reply to CreatedEqual. | February 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

      I’m not seeing the question. If your question is about the relative merits of stand your ground, then I’d have to say that SYG simply answers the question, “Do you have a duty to retreat?” The answer is no. Surely you understand that SYG doesn’t relieve anyone of the requirement to be in reasonable fear of death or serious injury for themselves or others before using deadly force, right? No law or absense of law will prevent your theoretical loved-one from being murdered by someone who is willing to act unlawfully.

      In today’s political environment, you’d be a fool not to run from a fight if you have the chance, but the law says you don’t have to. I think the law is morally correct, but who in their right mind would volunteer to be Zimmerman’d on principle?


       
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      vivibee601 in reply to CreatedEqual. | February 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      There is actually another case in Florida I read about recently where an African-American shooter chased a 21yr old African-American or Afro-Hispanic male over a fence and into an apartment complex and shot him 6 times, after the guy ran through his yard. There was no burglary/theft or crime other than trespassing through the man’s yard. The shooter has tried to claim that he was afraid. Commenters pointed out that as soon as you are chasing someone over a fence and onto other people’s property to shoot him, you become a perpetrator.

      I think the shooter’s name is something like Claudio Smith from the Orlando area?

      I wonder if there’s something about Florida’s law in particular that lends itself to these situations where, incredibly, people initiate confrontations and shoot or shoot fleeing people then try to claim self-defense? Doesn’t Texas have a similar law?

      Florida seems like some sort of legal petri dish.


     
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    citizenjeff | February 17, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Folks are complaining it was illogical of the jury to conclude it was lawful to shoot the decedent but unlawful to fire at the other three passengers. Other than they couldn’t agree which crime Dunn committed, is there a way the jury’s reasoning could be valid?

    Why would Mark O’Mara think it significant that Dunn was overcharged if the jury could have convicted on lesser charges?

    Jeralyn Merritt wrote: “If they can’t reach a verdict on Count 1, the judge will declare a mistrial as to that count only, which would allow prosecutors to retry him.” Like O’Mara, she didn’t mention the lesser charge option. Very confused as to what extent that option might be relevant with respect to the jury’s reasoning.

    Thoughts?


       
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      tom swift in reply to citizenjeff. | February 17, 2014 at 4:23 am

      illogical of the jury to conclude it was lawful to shoot the decedent but unlawful to fire at the other three passengers

      We don’t know that the jury decided that, though it’s a reasonable scenario.

      It’s logical because if there’s any truth to Dunn’s testimony that he really believed he was about to suffer a homicidal assault at the hands of Mr Davis, then forcible self defense by Dunn could well be justified.

      But that reasoning applies to none of the other three. None of them threatened Dunn, or seemed to be participating in a deadly assault on him. Therefore self defense doesn’t justify firing bullets at them, or any other use of force.


         
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        BrokeGopher in reply to tom swift. | February 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

        Even Dunn himself in the interview with JSD said, “I have no justification” for those shots. He later invented the justification of “fearing blind fire” and “keeping their heads down,” neither of which is really justification of shooting at a fleeing vehicle.


       
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      Immolate in reply to citizenjeff. | February 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

      The jury didn’t decide it was lawful to kill the decedent. They did not acquit, and if they had, they’d merely be saying that there was reasonable doubt as to guilt. They were, quite possibly, one person’s reasonable doubt away from convicting Dunn of first or second degree murder.


     
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    allmenroder | February 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    The legal/law enforcement arms of government must wake up every day and thank their stars that potential defendants voluntarily give statements to the police. If there’s one thing that stands out in all of this and other trials it is this: if you ever think you could be charged of a crime, even if you believe your are totally innocent, never, ever give a statement to the police without talking to an attorney first.

    @Ragspierre

    “Let’s see if you have the basic concept down NOW…”

    Why bother? Your only stratagem is too attack and deny.


       
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      Ragspierre in reply to Rational. | February 18, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Heh!!

      Project much…????

      “Aw, will you take that back when Holder doesn’t pursue this? Of course not. You will just continue your blind hatred regardless of the facts. You will just forget what you wrote and pick one of the 20 or so alleged outrages on the LI home page. Maybe you will go so far as to say: “Well, Holder didn’t go after Dunn, but ………. (fill in the blank)”.

      But, sokay. We all see you and laugh!


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