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“loud music” murder trial Tag

Jury selection begins today for the re-trial of Michael Dunn on a murder charge for the shooting death of teenager Jordan Davis, reports Business Insider. At his prior criminal trial Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of "throwing missiles" (firing a bullets) at a motor vehicle, but not on the charge of murder (on which the jury hung). We followed the Michael Dunn case closely here at Legal Insurrection, doing far too many posts to list individually:  those interested in viewing them can click here. A quick summary of the facts of the case are that Michael Dunn found himself parked beside an SUV containing Jordan Davis and three friends.  Dunn claimed that Davis threatened to kill him, pointed a shotgun-like object at him, and began to emerge from the SUV.  In response, Dunn claims, he retrieved his lawfully licensed pistol from the glove compartment of his car and began engaging the SUV with fire.

At Michael Dunn's recent "loud music" murder trial the jury found him guilty of three counts of attempted murder and one count of hurling missiles at an occupied vehicle--convictions sufficient for up to 75 years in prison. (Hat-tip to ‏@TCinOP for pointing out the News4Jax piece on this story.) The jury hung, however, on the charge of first degree murder (or any of its lesser included offenses, such as second degree murder and manslaughter) in the shooting death of Jordan Davis, apparently because at least three jurors they felt that the State prosecutors had failed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt (the legal standard for a legal defense of self-defense in all American states except for Ohio). Florida State Prosecutor Angela Corey, who led the first Dunn prosecution, had consistently stated that she intends to re-try Dunn on the hung murder charge--and now a date for that re-trial has been set.  And it's not far off:  May 5. Simultaneously with setting the re-trial date, the judge also ruled that Dunn's sentencing his existing convictions will be deferred until after a verdict has been reached on the murder charge.  Given the complexity of sentencing generally--typically a pre-sentencing report taking several weeks to prepare is required--and the probable likelihood that a verdict on the murder charges will be in hand in less than 8 weeks, it makes sense to simply have one sentencing process after the second trial. In addition, there is some uncertainty under Florida law whether convictions involving the state's "10-20-Life" statute must be run consecutively or whether they may be run concurrently.  The difference for Dunn on even just his existing convictions would be between a sentence of as long as 75 years if run consecutively (effectively a life sentence) and as "few" as 20 years if run concurrently.  

E.J. Dionne, Jr., in his Washington Post piece entitled "Repeal stand-your-ground laws," presents us with yet another example of the utter inability of too many journalists to grasp the relatively simple and straightforward legal concept commonly referred to as "Stand-Your-Ground." Humorously, the first paragraph of his piece had me utterly convinced that Dionne must certainly be writing about Obamacare, despite the headline:
The law is supposed to solve problems, not create them. Laws should provide as much clarity as possible, not expand the realms of ambiguity and subjectivity. Laws ought to bring about the practical results their promoters claim they'll achieve.
With a lead-in like that, surely he's about to call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, right? Just kidding--it is, after all, the Washington Post. Instead, Dionne has decided to call for the repeal of another law about which he patently knows nothing: "Stand-Your-Ground."

Dionne's Imagined Relevance of Stand-Your-Ground to Dunn Trial

How can we identify his ignorance of the law he argues should be repealed, as well as its application (or, more accurately, its lack of application) in the Zimmerman and Dunn trials. Why, he's kind enough to show us, in his own words. First, Dionne writes of the Dunn trial:
Supporters of the law say it was technically not at issue in the case, but this overlooks the obvious role it played in the trial.
And where do we find this "obvious role" for SYG in the Dunn trial? It was mentioned in a single passing sentence--that would be ONE sentence--with no particular emphasis by defense counsel Cory Strolla in his closing argument. One mention over the course of two weeks of jury voir dire opening statements, day after day of trial, and closing arguments. One. Mention.

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.

As of this writing, we still have no verdict in the Michael Dunn "Loud Music" murder trial. The jury now is in its 25th hour of deliberations, and has asked several questions about the law, including self defense. The verdict could come at any moment. It's interesting to watch the Twitter chatter as the verdict is unknown. as people can project their feelings without knowing the result. Race is a prism for many, who are outraged that the jury is taking so long. Here are just a few representative tweets:

NOTE: REFRESH SCREEN FOR LATEST UPDATE!

UPDATE (2-15):  GUILTY! Michael Dunn has been found guilty on most counts, but not the murder charge for the shooting of Jordan Davis. On that one count the jury was hung and unable to reach a verdict. The State is free to re-try Dunn on that charge.

However, Dunn was found guilty of three counts of attempted second degree murder and one count of throwing missiles at an occupied vehicle.

For more details see:

GUILTY! Dunn Guilty of Most Charges, But Not Murder

UPDATE (2-15): 652PM JURY VERDICT PENDING ON ALL COUNTS UPDATE (2-15): 6:15PM Jury question: If we cannot agree on a count, is the entire case mis-tried or just the count? Judge brought jury in, clarifies that's not the case. No mistrial at all, would just be hung on that last count (which State could re-try at their discretion). Jury still has more to consider, they noted, so back to deliberations. 4:41PM Note from jury. Jury has verdict on four of the five counts--the one they can't decide is the first charge, the murder charge for death of Jordan Davis.  Healey to read them Allen charge.  Bringing the jurors on in. Healey reads them the Allen charge, sends them back to deliberations. [caption id="attachment_78892" align="alignnone" width="450"]("Loud music" murder trial "Allen" charge.) ("Loud music" murder trial "Allen" charge.)[/caption] UPDATE (2-15): 9:50AM Jury questions: (1) Is the defense of self-defense separate for each person in each count? A: "Yes." (2) Are we determining if deadly force is justified against each person in each count? A: "Yes." (3) Or if we determine deadly force is justified against one person, is it justified against others?  A: "No. Self defense and justifiable use of deadly force applies separately to each count." UPDATE (2-15): 9:00AM Court came briefly into session. Jury was starting deliberations only now, or within a few minutes. Court in recess until they hear something from the jury. Keep eyes here for breaking news. UPDATE (2-15): 8:38AM Can hear audio techs in court room 406, "Test 1, 2."  No video yet. UPDATE  (2-15): 8:30AM Judge Healey is expected to pro forma bring the court into session at 9:00AM, but it was anticipated that the jury would already be in deliberations by that time.  We're here covering the court live, all day. UPDATE (2-14): 6:50PM Jury requests to be dismissed for the night, saying they have "hit a wall for tonight."  Judge allows, no objection. He thanks jury, says he'll let THEM decide what time to start tomorrow. Healey suggests, 9:00, 9:30, and one juror responds, "7:00". The court room breaks into laughter. Healey decides jury can arrive when they wish, he'll be there but rest of court need not, at 9:00AM he'll call court into session and announce what time the jury actually started, just so everyone knows. That's it for tonight, folks. UPDATE (2-14): 6:40PM Several of Dunn's jail house phone recordings--the cause of so much pre-trial litigation over "open records" disputes with the media--have just been released.  These include:

12/3/12, w/ Rhonda Rouer:

12/3/12: Dunn's call with father about legal options

12/5/12: Dunn's calls with fiancee & his parents

12/26-27/12: Michael Dunn calls to Rhonda Rouer

UPDATE (2-14): 5:00PM Two questions from the jury. First question involves getting a 30 minute break, Healey of course says yes. Second question more substantive:  Is it permissible for them to agree on several of the charges, but not on other of the charges. Answer is also yes. Verdicts would be rendered on the ones where unanimous agreement, the others would be hung, and State could re-prosecute on any hung charges at their discretion. (As a reminder, there are five indicted charges--Murder 1, three counts of attempted Murder 1, and hurling missiles. Also the jury is free to consider all lesser included charges.) UPDATE (2-14) 9:00AM Court in session. Discussion in court about simply sending jury straight into deliberations, no formal morning greeting in court. Healey: "This is a working group."  Also announced that people will no longer be able to sit in the court room during recess while jury deliberations going on.  People have said it might be possible for people in court room to hear talking from jury deliberations, and vice versa. So 5 minutes before reconvene will allow people back into court room. Healey: "Happy Valentines Day to everybody, we'll see you all when we get some word from the jury." Court recessed. UPDATE (2-14): 8:00AM The jury is scheduled to return to deliberations at 9:00AM.  We'll be covering the events in the court room all day, real-time, right here at this post on Legal Insurrection. UPDATE (2-13): 6:20PM That's it for tonight, no jury decision yet, we start again at 9:00AM US EST tomorrow. Legal Insurrection's live-coverage will be AT THIS PAGE, so bookmark to come back. UPDATE (2-13): 4:30 Court back in session. Jury asking when letter exhibit #201 written? One of Dunn's jail house letters. Court looks through transcript, identifies as June 2013. This is the "Black Friday" letter, though obviously not written that date. Jury now retiring back to jury room. Healey tells all four alternates they'll be held overnight tonight, but tomorrow can be sequestered in hotel room rather than in court house, more comfortable for them. Update (2-13): 2:25PM Jury reports that one set of jury instructions is missing pages 32-41. (Holy cow, that's a lot of instructions.) Weighing the evidence, defendant's statements, rules for deliberations, cautionary instructions, verdict, submitting case to the jury, not substantive discussions. We didn't change any of these from the model instructions.  Just sending back the missing pages. No objections from State or defense. Jurors also requested a dry easel or large paper, which will be sent back to them. Back in recess. UPDATE (2-13): 1:45PMJury asks if they can see "Bendie," the dummy with the trajectory dowels. Normally such demonstrative evidence would not go back to jury.  Healey suggests he'll allow if the defense has no objection. Strolla doesn't initially object, but then turns out that the dowels in Bendie were moved around since last seen in court, no longer representative, so objects.  Bendie won't go back.  Healey writes out explanatory note for bailiff to give to jurors.  Calls jurors into court room, reads them the note, "can't send dummy back because it was demonstrative exhibit for demonstrative purposes, not entered into evidence." Sends them back to continue their deliberations. UPDATE (2-13): 1:20PM Jury asks if they can be provided with the "trajectory-rod dummy."  Problem is, dummy is demonstrative evidence only, normally would not go back to jury room.  State has no objection. Strolla and Dunn discuss briefly in separate room, return and say they also have no objection.  Healey, in abundance of caution, recesses for 15 minutes so case law can be reviewed, ensure they don't inadvertently make a move that could result in reversal. UPDATE (2-13): 11:50AM Defense counsel Cory Strolla speaking to reporters in live feed. UPDATE (2-13): 9:43AM. Healey speaks with the four alternate jurors. They were held over in sequester last night, both from the public and the other jurors. He tells them he's not inclined to keep all them overnight again if there's no verdict again, and is inclined to let one or two of them go home even if no verdict. Seems he'll decide later in the day. UPDATE (2-13): 9:39AM. Healey welcomed the jury back. They were not scheduled to start until 10:00AM, but are present and ready to go, so he is not going to hold them up. Last night they requested the gas station market surveillance video, and this morning they have been provided with that video and instructions on how to play it. Court is now in recess until it receives either another jury instruction or a verdict. (As this update was being typed the juror requested an external monitor on which to view the video.)
Today Legal Insurrection is on real-time Verdict Watch in the "loud music" murder trial of Michael Dunn in the shooting death of Jordan Davis.  Dunn is charged with 1st degree murder for the death of Davis, three counts of attempted murder in the first degree for firing at Davis' three friends with him in the SUV, and one count of firing a missile into a vehicle.  He will also be subject to Florida's "10-20-Life" statute, as well as all lesser included offenses of the primary charges.  Dunn claims he acted in lawful self-defense. We will update with breaking news as it happens in real-time. The jury is will re-start deliberations at 10AM US EST. Before breaking last night they asked to be provided with the surveillance video from the gas station market. The video is 20 minutes long, and consists of 6 distinct camera angles. At 9:30AM the State, defense, and Judge Healey will meet to finalize the protocol for providing the jury the video. The Florida Model Jury Instructions for all these criminal charges as well as justifiable use of deadly force can be found here: “Loud Music” Murder Trial: Relevant Florida Jury Instructions Profiles of the 12 jurors currently in deliberations can be found here: “Loud Music” Murder Trial: THE 12 FINAL JURORS Immediately below are three live video feeds from the court room, and below the live video feeds is a live Twitter feed with my live tweets and those of others reporting on the trial.

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. [caption id="attachment_78557" align="alignnone" width="450"](Reasonable Doubt.) (Reasonable Doubt.)[/caption]

 First Degree Murder

The elements of the crimes with which Dunn is charged, beginning with first degree murder. [caption id="attachment_78558" align="alignnone" width="450"](Murder 1st Degree.) (Murder 1st Degree.)[/caption] In the context of first degree murder she also provided a definition ofpremeditation:

NOTE: LIVE COVERAGE: “Loud Music” Murder Trial, VERDICT WATCH

Welcome to day six of our live coverage of the "loud music" 1st degree murder trial of Michael Dunn in real time. Here are three live video feeds. Expectations are that this morning will see closing arguments, in the following sequence: State, Defense, State. Then the jury will be charged (read the jury instructions) and provided with their verdict forms. The jury instructions in this case are extensive. Not only are there the five primary charges on which Dunn was indicted--first degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, and firing into an occupied vehicle--there are also the lesser included crimes of each, as well as Florida's 10-20-Life statute (775.087), made infamous by the Marissa Alexander case.  Add on top of that Florida's very lengthy and convoluted justification jury instructions, and it's not hard to see that the jury's going to receive a very large packet of instructional material, indeed. (Sadly, I expect the standardized jury instructions will once again include the instruction on Stand-Your-Ground, despite the fact that SYG plays no more of a role here than it did in the Zimmerman trial--meaning, none. Their inclusion will provide plenty of fodder for the "SYG-phobics" and, of course, journalists.) Our end-of-day wrap-up discussing these issues as well as yesterday afternoon's testimony by Michael Dunn, and rebuttal by State-called witnesses Rhonda Rouer and Homicide Detective Musser can be found here: “Loud Music” Murder Trial Day 5: Dunn Testifies, Defense Rests Below the live video feeds is a live Twitter feed with my live tweets and those of others reporting on the trial. We plan to do a brief mid-day summary when the court recesses for lunch, then our usual lengthier coverage/analysis after the court recesses that day's end. At the bottom of this post, below the Twitter feed, I've embedded yesterday's testimony by Dunn, Rouer, and Musser.)

NOTE: LIVE COVERAGE: “Loud Music” Murder Trial, VERDICT WATCH

Today the Dunn trial managed to wrap up all of the evidence to be presented to the jury, including a bit of rebuttal evidence once the defense had rested.  All the criminal charges--first degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, and firing into an occupied vehicle--are moving forward, as is the legal defense of self-defense. Notable today was the testimony of the defendant, Michael Dunn.  On direct he recounted the events leading up to, during, and following his shooting of of Jordan Davis, as was necessary if he hoped to get a self-defense jury instruction.  He was unshaken by the ~ 3 hours of cross-examination of Assistant State Attorney John guy. In my opinion, however, he came across as cool, aloof, and lacking in empathy.  This would normally be a small matter, except that the sole evidence of self-defense comes from his own testimony, and his credibility is already seriously damaged by his flight from the scene and his failure to contact police be he was arrested by them. Closing arguments are scheduled for 10AM tomorrow morning, with perhaps some final argument ironing out the jury instructions beforehand.  We'll be live here at Legal Insurrection whatever time court starts up and the video feed is live. OK, let's get to the events of the day:
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