JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - A north Florida jury resumed deliberations for a second day on Thursday in the trial of a middle-aged software engineer who shot and killed a black teenager in an argument over rap music blaring from the youth’s car.
Defense attorneys say Michael Dunn, 47, who is white, acted in self-defense when he fired off 10 rounds at an SUV carrying four teens, killing Jordan Davis, 17, while parked in a Jacksonville gas station.
The jury asked to review security camera video from inside the gas station which captures the reaction of the clerks to the sound of the gunfire, as well as Dunn’s fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, who had gone into the store to buy wine.
The trial has drawn international attention because of racial overtones and claims of self-defense.
Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the November 2012 shooting of Davis. He also faces three charges of attempted murder.
The judge also denied a request by the jury to see the courtroom foam dummy used to demonstrate the trajectory of the three bullets that struck Davis. The judge told them to review the court transcript instead.
Davis was out on the town with friends when the argument broke out. Prosecutors said Davis used foul language when confronting Dunn, but that Davis was unarmed and never posed a physical threat.
“Jordan Davis didn’t have a weapon. He had a big mouth. That man wasn’t going to stand for it, and it cost Jordan Davis his life,” Assistant State Attorney John Guy said on Wednesday, wrapping up the prosecution’s case at the end of a week-long trial.
“This case is not about self-defense. It’s about self-denial,” he added.
The case has drawn comparisons to the trial of George Zimmerman, the former central Florida neighborhood watchman who was acquitted last year of murder after shooting an unarmed black 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, in self-defense during a struggle.
If found guilty, Dunn, who has been in custody since the incident, faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty.
The jury of 8 whites, 2 blacks, one Asian and one Hispanic, was ordered to be sequestered during deliberations.
In a press conference, Dunn’s attorney Cory Strolla denied that racism had anything to do with his client’s decision to shoot into a carful of black teenagers playing what he referred to on the stand as “crap rap.”
Strolla explained that young blacks and whites listen to “so-called gangster music” and “unfortunately try to imitate” behavior they hear described in the music.
Strolla was asked to explain jailhouse letters penned by Dunn in which he used the word “thugs” to describe black inmates.
“The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior,” he wrote in one letter.
Strolla responded that the letter was written after Dunn’s life had been threatened in jail.
Dunn took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday and told the jury he started shooting in a state of panic after the exchange of words grew more heated and he thought he saw the barrel of a gun in the back window as Davis started to get out of the car.
Police said they found no weapon in the teens’ Durango after the shooting.
In what some analysts say was key testimony during the trial, Rouer told the jury that Dunn never mentioned to her on the night of the shooting seeing a gun in the teen’s car, despite later telling police that was why he opened fire.
Writing by David Adams; editing by Gunna Dickson