One of the jurors in the controversial Michael Dunn trial explains why they couldn’t agree on the murder charge:
This juror says she believed Dunn was guilty of murder, and most of her fellow panelists believed a conviction for murder or manslaughter was justified. But ultimately, three jurors bought the self-defence claim:
Juror #4 – who asked to be identified simply as “Valerie” – said two and then three jurors ultimately believed Michael Dunn was justified in the 2012 shooting death of Jordan Davis. Valerie, who wanted a conviction, says the group knew within the first hour that they would be unable to reach a unanimous decision.
The first thing jurors did when handed the case was turn to page 25 in the jury instructions, she said. The question: do you believe that Michael Dunn was justified or unjustified in the murder of Jordan Davis?”
“It said if he believed that he had an eminent [sic] threat to himself or his fiancee, so that was a thing that those two folks believed – he was frightened and there was no other option for him in regards to Mr. Davis,” Valerie said. “The rest of us were 100 percent sure, you didn’t have to react [with gunfire], you could have had another option.
“We looked at a lot of evidence – and myself, it was where the gunshots were, the timing. Could he have had other options? To me, [the shooting] was unnecessary.”
Dunn, 47, never denied that he shot and killed 17-year-old Davis in a gas station parking lot after they got into an argument over loud music. But he pleaded self-defense from the witness stand. Jurors found the middle-aged software developer guilty on four of five charges for shooting at Davis’ friends, who were also in the car, as well as firing a gun into a car in the 2012 incident. But the mistrial on the first-degree murder charge for shooting Davis has sparked outrage.
According to Valerie, the jurors who believed Dunn was guilty were split between first-degree, second-degree and manslaughter – but because they were unable to unanimously overcome the issue of self-defense, the jury was deadlocked. The jurors yelled and screamed at each other at one point, but all were respectful of each other’s position.
Much of the heated commentary about this case appears to presume Dunn was acquitted on the murder charge, for which he will be re-tried. I will concede, however, that considering the holes in his defence (largely exposed by his own girlfriend) it’s disturbing to find out that three jurors bought it.
As for the question of why Dunn was convicted of attempted murder, “Valerie” – as expected – confirms that the jurors unanimously drew a distinction between the first set of shots fired, and those he fired as the vehicle carrying Davis pulled away. When the other parties were leaving, there was no longer any plausible argument for self-defence.