February 13, 2014 / 2:20 PM / 4 years ago

Florida jury deliberating verdict in loud music murder trial

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - A north Florida jury resumes deliberations on Thursday in the trial of a middle-aged software engineer who shot and killed a black teenager who refused to turn down the rap music blaring from his car.

Defense attorneys say Michael Dunn, 47, who is white, acted in self-defense when he fired off ten rounds at an SUV carrying four teens, killing Jordan Davis, 17, while parked in a Jacksonville gas station.

After deliberating for two hours on Wednesday, the jury asked the judge if they could 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 went 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 for firing 10 shots at four teens in a Dodge Durango.

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.

Michael Dunn looks at his family during his murder trial in the shooting death of unarmed teen Jordan Davis, in Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Bob Mack/Pool

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 saying he shot 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.

Slideshow (3 Images)

The jury of 8 whites, 2 blacks, one Asian and one Hispanic, was ordered by the judge to be sequestered during deliberations.

In closing arguments, Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, said the state had failed to prove its case, pointing to a lack of conclusive forensic evidence about where Davis was when he was shot.

“Michael Dunn was in a place where he had a right to be, asking for a common courtesy. He had no duty to retreat. He had a right to meet force with force, including deadly force,” said Strolla. “He’s had that gun for 20 years and he has never fired it once.”

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’ SUV 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

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