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Change of Venue Motion For Dunn Trial To Be Heard Thursday


A judge has set a hearing for Thursday to determine whether or not the murder trial of Michael Dunn will stay in Jacksonville.

Michael Dunn was back in court for a brief appearance Monday morning.

Circuit Judge Russell Healey said at the hearing that the court would convene again Thursday to determine several defense motions, including whether or not a change of venue is in order for the trial.
Dunn is charged in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. In February, a jury deadlocked on whether or not to convict him of the murder charge.

Last week, his attorney filed a motion to change the venue arguing that the inordinate amount of pretrial publicity the case has received has compromised Dunn’s right to a fair trial. Calling the coverage erroneous and misleading, Dunn’s attorney Waffa Hanania argued her client "has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion."

Davis’s mother Lucia McBath was at the hearing Monday with the family's attorney John Phillips.

"My mindset has been that there have been other major trials and cases throughout the country that have had even far greater attention and those venues were not changed, so why would we have to change ours?" McBath said.

Another possibility is to bring in an outside jury. However, Phillips said he did not believe that was likely, citing the trial of George Zimmerman in Sanford.

"Duval County is so big because of the consolidation of the entire city, and if you can get a jury of six in Sanford after all the publicity there, I think you can get 12 or 14 here," he said.

In addition to the change of venue motion, the judge is expected to hear six other motions filed by the defense, including a motion to sequester jury members, one to prohibit court attendees from wearing anything depicting support for Davis and one to limit the number of “inflammatory” photos shown during the trial.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Sept. 22.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.