The Florida jury in the case of Michael Dunn has found him guilty on four charges, including three for second-degree attempted murder.

But they were unable to reach a verdict on a fifth count of first-degree murder. The judge — who moments before had said that the jury had reached a verdict on all counts — declared a mistrial on this count alone.

The jurors weighing the fate of Michael Dunn — the white man who shot into a SUV with black teens after he had asked them to turn down their music — have reached a verdict on four counts, but not on the fifth and most severe one, a judge said Saturday.

Judge Russell Healey announced around 4:45 p.m. that the 12 jurors had sent a note saying they’d decided on four of the five counts that Dunn faces. But they haven’t unanimously reached a verdict “on count 1 or any of the lesser included offenses related to it.”

 

Count 1 is first-degree murder for the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Jurors could decide not to convict Dunn on that charge but instead find him guilty on lesser charges such as manslaughter.

Their heads bowed, members of Davis’ family held each other tight inside the packed courtroom as the judge detailed the unanimity on some counts but the discord over the one involving Davis himself.

Healey then told the jury to continue its deliberations in hopes of a breakthrough on this crucial count.

“I want you to go back into the jury room, then taking turns tell each of the other jurors about any weaknesses of your own position,” the judge told the jurors, several of whom looked down and nodded as he spoke. “You should not interrupt each other or comment on each other’s views until each of you has had a chance to talk.”

 

If they still can’t decide after some length of time — perhaps a few more hours or days — a hung jury on this count is possible.

To that point, Healey said, “If you simply cannot reach a verdict, then return to the courtroom, and I will declare this case mistried as to that count and will discharge you with my sincere appreciation for your services.”

About 1½ hours later, the court reconvened, but not to announce a conclusion to the case.

 

Rather, the jury asked whether the entire case would be declared a mistrial if they reached a verdict on four counts but not the fifth, potentially for first-degree murder. The judge responded by telling them that no, “only the single count is mistried, not the entire case.”

 

In the same note in which they posed this question, the jury said they had “reviewed the weaknesses of our position and have more to talk about.”

In other words, the deliberations are continuing.

 

Earlier Saturday, Healey had acknowledged that the jury of four white women, two black women, four white men, an Asian woman and a Hispanic man was “struggling, obviously.” Healey answered their questions at this point — including “self-defense and justifiable use of deadly force applies separately to each count.”

“But it’s not for want of trying to reconcile all of this,” he said then. “I think we’ve got some analytical people in there who are trying to do just that — trying to analyze this from every possible angle.”

Echoes of Trayvon Martin’s death

It was November 23, 2012, when Michael Dunn pulled into a gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red SUV full of teenagers.

Loud music was coming from that car, and Dunn expressed his displeasure.

What came next is a subject of dispute. Clearly, there were words exchanged. And without doubt, Dunn ended up opening fire on the vehicle, killing Davis.

But did one of the teens flash a gun? Dunn says so, but prosecutors say that’s not true — pointing to the fact the teens were unarmed. And was the defendant acting in self-defense? Again, the two sides come to opposite conclusions.

 

Some have compared the Dunn case to the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, which, like the current trial, had racial overtones and claims of self-defense.

Martin’s own parents have said as much, claiming Davis’ killing is another reminder that in Florida, “racial profiling and stereotypes” may serve as the basis for illegitimate fear “and the shooting and killing of young teenagers.”

But Dunn’s defense attorney, Cory Strolla, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday that the Zimmerman and Dunn cases aren’t so similar.

 

There was a physical confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin, and police gave Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt about defending himself, Strolla said.

“My client did not wait to become that victim,” he said. “My client did not wait to either get assaulted by a weapon or have someone potentially pull a trigger,” he said.

Though a weapon was never found, Strolla maintains the youths could have had one. Dunn felt threatened and acted, he said.

“Now, does it sound irrational? Of course it sounds irrational. But have you ever been in that situation?” Strolla asked.

Given the attention and emotions tied to this case, a “comprehensive public safety plan” has been established ahead of a verdict, according to the Duval County joint information center handling the Dunn trial.

“All contingencies have been planned for,” the statement said. “We will not discuss the specifics of any security plan. We will continue to protect the rights of those who choose to peaceably demonstrate.”

Whatever the verdict, Davis’ parents, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, will never see their son again, they noted, adding, “We know that pain all too well. We walk with Jordan in defining his legacy to reflect our hopes by advancing love and tolerance in his memory, and continuing the fight against unjust gun laws.”

“Tomorrow is my boy’s 19th birthday,” his mother tweeted Saturday. “I pray we will celebrate not only him but a just and righteous verdict. Patiently we wait.”

VIA CNN

 

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