UPDATED 10/1/14, 5:16 P.M.: The Rev. Al Sharpton has released the following statement on Michael Dunn’s guilty verdict:
“The conviction of Michael Dunn of first degree murder vindicates the committed work of the parents of Jordan Davis and all of us, who despite setbacks still tried to get the courts to deal with issues like this. Many say we cannot win cases in the courts and must resort to taking things in our own hands. Verdicts like this tell us even though the road is long and rough we cannot be deterred. It also says that loud music and wild claims cannot justify the taking of innocent unarmed lives.”
As the nation patiently awaited the verdict in the trial of Michael Dunn (pictured above) over the killing of Florida teen Jordan Davis (pictured), the verdict was handed down Wednesday after hours of deliberation. Dunn was found guilty of first-degree murder, bringing a measure of closure to the case that still has many unanswered questions.
Dunn, 47, shot and killed the 17-year-old Davis, claiming he feared for his life after an argument over loud music outside a Jacksonville convenience store. Back in February, the jury found Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder and firing his weapon in to an occupied vehicle.
However, the jury deadlocked on finding Dunn guilty of first-degree murder after 30 hours of deliberation.
The jury took around five and a half hours to come to its decision. Prosecutors went after Dunn’s self-defense plea, saying that he acted on impulse and not facts that Davis and the three other teenagers in the vehicle listening to music were armed. Despite Dunn’s attorneys claiming their client saw evidence of a weapon in Davis’ hands, the jury saw it the prosecution’s way.
“Let me be very clear: There was no shotgun in that red Durango that night,” [state prosecutor Erin] Wolfson said. “There was no stick, there was no branch, there was no hollow pipe. There was no weapon. Inside that Dodge Durango were four teenagers … four kids who had just left their moms, four kids who were spending their Black Friday doing what lots of people do — out at the mall, they were just hanging out, being kids, listening to music that they liked.”
Wolfson said the shooting was premeditated, even though what happened lasted less than two minutes. Wolfson said Dunn had plenty of time to think about what he was going to do when he reached over, grabbed his gun, cocked it, aimed it, and fired it.
“Taking aim at Jordan Davis, 10 shots — that’s what he fired that Friday night, nine of them hitting his intended target, each time intending to kill, and kill he did,” Wolfson said.
Defense attorney Waffa Hanania argued on behalf of his client stating that Dunn acted out of fear for his life. Hanania offered to the jury that Davis threatened Dunn and charged his vehicle, adding that’s when his client saw the supposed weapon.
No weapon, nor anything resembling one, was found at the scene by investigators.
Lucy McBath, left, and her husband Ron Davis participate in a gun control rally as part of the “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence,” a 25-state national bus tour, at the Georgia Capitol, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Atlanta. The family lost their 17-year-old son Jordan Davis to gun violence in 2012. (AP Photo/Jaime Henry-White)
Davis’ parents, Ron Davis and Lucy McBath, have been contending with this case for nearly two years and were hopeful that the next stop in the murder case was Dunn’s conviction. For both, anything short of a full conviction would have been a failure of justice.
“We know they’ve worked very, very hard on behalf of our son,” McBath said. “We’re very grateful. We’re grateful to the citizens of Jacksonville and all the people who’ve stood firmly beside us, praying for us.”
The parents of Davis hold no ill will of Dunn, saying that they even felt some measure of pity for him. However, they both believe the trial went exactly as it should.