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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

As Jurors Deliberate, What Evidence Matters Most In The Dunn Trial?


Jurors in the murder trial of Michael Dunn resume their deliberations this morning.  They’ll soon render a verdict in a case that has once again drawn national attention to Florida.The jurors have the option of convicting Dunn of second-degree murder or manslaughter if they decide the evidence doesn’t justify a conviction for first-degree murder.

Dunn shot and killed local teen Jordan Davis in 2012 after a fight over loud music at a Baymeadows area gas station.

He later told police he believed Davis and his friends had a gun, but no weapon was ever found.

Rod Sullivan, professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, has been providing legal analysis for us throughout the trial. He joined Melissa Ross for an update.

“They’re going to take their time in reviewing the evidence and deciding what the result is going to be,” he said of the 12 jurors.

Sullivan said the approximately two-and-a-half hours of opening deliberations on Wednesday evening were likely spent giving first impressions of the case and electing a foreman. He expects they will spend today carefully reviewing the evidence before delivering a verdict.

“I think the most important piece of evidence is that nobody else saw a gun,” Sullivan said, referring to the defense claim that Davis was raising a shotgun at Dunn.

“If you’re in a crowded parking lot at a Gate station, and the car drives off into a crowded parking lot where there’s a loop, and nobody else sees a firearm except Michael Dunn, I that’s first of all a very difficult case to believe.”

The second major factor according to Sullivan, in terms of evidence, is the testimony of Dunn’s fiancé, Rhonda Rouer.

As a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, Rouer testified that Dunn never told her in the hours following the shooting that he saw Davis with a gun. In his own testimony, Dunn claimed he told Rouer he saw Davis with a gun.

“I just think most people find that to be incredible,” Sullivan said, noting that the two drove from Jacksonville to Satellite Beach the day after the shooting and didn’t, according to Rouer, discuss a gun.

In his closing statement, Dunn’s defense attorney Cory Strolla told jurors they must acquit under the state’s self-defense law if they believe Dunn was reasonably in fear for his life.

“I don’t really think that Stand Your Ground really works well in this situation, this is more justifiable use of force,” Sullivan said, noting that the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law applies in a situation where an opportunity to retreat isn’t taken.

According to Dunn’s testimony that Davis was pointing a shotgun at him, Sullivan said, he wouldn’t have had an opportunity to retreat.

Jurors returned to deliberations at around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, beginning the day with a review of video surveillance footage from inside the gas station convenience store during the shooting.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.