Wolfson defines the criminal charges, requirements for self-defense, and Dunn’s many inconsistent statements, evidence
Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson made a solid presentation in the first of the State’s two closing arguments. (The State has a second closing argument after the defense’s close.)
She touched upon all the key points, using powerpoint slides and forensic photos, beginning with a definition of a reasonable doubt, defined in the negative as is pretty much the norm.
First Degree Murder
The elements of the crimes with which Dunn is charged, beginning with first degree murder.
In the context of first degree murder she also provided a definition ofpremeditation:
Second Degree Murder
Wolfson then transitioned into the lesser included charge of second degree murder, differentiating it from first degree:
She then defined 2nd degree murder in the context of the facts of this case:
Finally, she defined the malice element of second degree murder:
She emphasized, however, that this was truly a case of 1st degree murder, not second, because the element of premeditation was proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence:
During this argument she made extensive use of the forensic evidence of the bullet strikes and trajectory rods, emphasizing the number and accuracy/precision of the shots fired:
Time for Reflection
She also touched upon the third burst of fire that struck the back of the fleeing SUV, and used this to transition into the “time for reflection” component of premeditation:
The Law of Self Defense
Wolfson then got to a subject near and dear to my own heart, the law of self-defense, starting with defining Florida’s laws governing the justifiable use of deadly force:
She also defined Florida law in the context of the use of deadly defensive force against a forcible felony:
Wolfson noted, however, that any act of self-defense must be that of a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the circumstances:
She then walked the jury through the facts in evidence, and urged that they conclude Dunn’s conduct simply did not qualify as lawful self-defense:
Wolfson then moved on to the three counts of attempted murder, in the context of Kevin Thompson, Leland Brunson, and Tommy Storns, defining the crime:
These charges stem, of course, from the final three rounds Dunn fired into the rear of the SUV as it fled:
Wolfson then touched upon the lesser included charges here, including both attempted murder in the 2nd degree and attempted manslaughter by act:
In the context of the manslaughter charge, she also defined “wanton and malicious”:
Weighing the Evidence: Dunn’s Inconsistent Statements
Wolfson spent the last part of her closing explaining to the jury how Judge Healey would instruct them to weigh the testimony in court.
She then asked the jury to carefully apply that same standard to Michael Dunn’s own testimony, calling out one inconsistent statement after another:
With that, Wolfson wrapped her closing statement, and Judge Healey recessed the court for lunch. Throughout the morning, defendant Michael Dunn sat impassive.
Defense Closing, State Rebuttal, Jury Instruction, Deliberations
After lunch defense counsel Cory Strolla will present his closing argument, after which the State will have an opportunity to rebut.
Following the State’s final closing argument, Judge Healey will instruct the jury on the various criminal charges, self-defense, how to weigh evidence, and provide them with their verdict forms, then send them off to deliberate.
It is a dangerous art to predict how long a jury will be out in deliberations. I would note, however, that the Zimmerman jury was effectively in deliberations for just a few hours, and the Marissa Alexander jury for only 12 minutes.
See you back at the live coverage page at 1:00PM, and for live-tweeting be sure to follow me at both @LawSelfDefense and @LawSelfDefense2.
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.DONATE
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