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    “Loud music” Murder Case: Prosecution Delivers Solid Close

    “Loud music” Murder Case: Prosecution Delivers Solid Close

    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.)

    Reasonable Doubt

    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.

    (Reasonable Doubt.)

    (Reasonable Doubt.)

     First Degree Murder

    The elements of the crimes with which Dunn is charged, beginning with first degree murder.

    (Murder 1st Degree.)

    (Murder 1st Degree.)

    In the context of first degree murder she also provided a definition ofpremeditation:

    (A Premeditated Act.)

    (A Premeditated Act.)

    (Premeditation slide 2.)

    (Premeditation slide 2.)

    (Premeditation slide 3.)

    (Premeditation slide 3.)

    Second Degree Murder

    Wolfson then transitioned into the lesser included charge of second degree murder, differentiating it from first degree:

    Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 10.42.48 AM

    She then defined 2nd degree murder in the context of the facts of this case:

    (2nd degree murder under facts of this case.)

    (2nd degree murder under facts of this case.)

    Finally, she defined the malice element of second degree murder:

    (Malice of 2nd degree murder defined.)

    (Malice of 2nd degree murder defined.)

    Premeditation

    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:

    (Premeditation evidence.)

    (Premeditation 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:

    (Davis door bullet holes.)

    (Davis door bullet holes.)

    (Davis door trajectory rods.)

    (Davis door trajectory rods.)

    (Exterior trajectory rods.)

    (Exterior trajectory rods.)

    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:

    (Time for reflection element of premeditation.)

    (Time for reflection element 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:

    (Justifiable Use of Deadly Force.)

    (Justifiable Use of Deadly Force.)

    She also defined Florida law in the context of the use of deadly defensive force against a forcible felony:

    (Self-defense, forcible felony.)

    (Self-defense, forcible felony.)

    Wolfson noted, however, that any act of self-defense must be that of a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the circumstances:

    (Circumstances, reasonably cautious and prudent.)

    (Circumstances, reasonably cautious and prudent.)

    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:

    (Dunn's conduct not self-defense.)

    (Dunn’s conduct not self-defense.)

    Attempted Murder

    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:

    (Attempted Murder in the 1st Degree.)

    (Attempted Murder in the 1st Degree.)

    These charges stem, of course, from the final three rounds Dunn fired into the rear of the SUV as it fled:

    (Trajectory rods, final shots, rear of SUV.)

    (Trajectory rods, final shots, rear of SUV.)

    Wolfson then touched upon the lesser included charges here, including both attempted murder in the 2nd degree and attempted manslaughter by act:

    (Attempted murder 2nd degree.)

    (Attempted murder 2nd degree.)

    Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 11.36.41 AM

    In the context of the manslaughter charge, she also defined “wanton and malicious”:

    (Wanton and malicious.)

    (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.

    (Weighing the evidence.)

    (Weighing the evidence.)

    She then asked the jury to carefully apply that same standard to Michael Dunn’s own testimony, calling out one inconsistent statement after another:

    (Dunn's inconsistent statements.)

    (Dunn’s inconsistent statements.)

    (Dunn's inconsistent statements 2.)

    (Dunn’s inconsistent statements 2.)

    (Dunn's inconsistent statements 3.)

    (Dunn’s inconsistent statements 3.)

    With that, Wolfson wrapped her closing statement, and Judge Healey recessed the court for lunch.  Throughout the morning, defendant Michael Dunn sat impassive.

    (Defendant Michael Dunn.)

    (Defendant Michael Dunn.)

    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, @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



     
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    MouseTheLuckyDog | February 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Let me point out a macabre irony. If there was a gun, Dunn would have been better off hitting all four of the boys seriously. Then the police would have found the gun. Ah the beauty of our justice system.


       
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      Rational in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | February 12, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      As long as we are working with irony and hypotheticals. What if they had not been able to withdraw and there wasn’t any weapon? How would you guys find any redeeming aspects to Dunn’s defense? Their act of trying to save their lives by driving off seems like the only thing that Dunn can use.

      Of course you do have to wonder why Dunn did not take cover when a shotgun was allegedly pointed at him. He actually placed himself directly in the place where the shotgun easily could get him. You do have to wonder why not one shot was fired from the mythical shotgun while the defendant was getting off 10 shots.

    “To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe the truth.” –Guy

    He mangled that same (mis)quote from Voltaire during his Zimmerman closing, too.

    The boy doesn’t have much of a repertoire, does he.


     
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    MouseTheLuckyDog | February 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    In closing Strolla said that Stornes cousin came to the scene after he called him. Is that in evidence?


     
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    MouseTheLuckyDog | February 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    In his testimony, Dunn said he heard a pop before firing.
    Today when Wolfson [played back the shots, you do hear a pop quieter then the gun shots, but still quite loud. Any idea what that is?


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