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'Loud music' killer convicted in shooting

But Florida jury can't agree on murder charge

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Kelly Jordan / The Florida Times-Union / The Associated Press
Denise Hunt tears up outside of the Duval County Courthouse as she finds out the jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge for Michael Dunn.

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Kelly Jordan / The Florida Times-Union / The Associated Press Denise Hunt tears up outside of the Duval County Courthouse as she finds out the jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge for Michael Dunn.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 47-year-old software developer was convicted Saturday of attempted murder for shooting into a car full of teenagers after an argument over what he called their "thug music," but jurors couldn't agree on the most serious charge of first-degree murder.

After more than 30 hours of jury deliberations over four days, a mistrial was declared on the murder charge Michael Dunn faced in the fatal shooting of one of the black teens. The 12 jurors found him guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of firing into an occupied car.

Dunn was charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis, of Marietta, Ga., in 2012 after the argument over loud music coming from the SUV occupied by Davis and three friends outside a Jacksonville convenience store. Dunn, who is white, had described the music to his fiancée as "thug music."

Dunn showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. Each attempted second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while the fourth charge he was convicted on carries a maximum of 15. A sentencing date will be set at a hearing next month.

Davis' parents each left the courtroom in tears, and afterward his mother, Lucia McBath, expressed gratitude for the verdict. Sunday would have been the teen's 19th birthday.

'He's going to learn that he must be remorseful for the killing of my son, that it was not just another day at the office'

"We are so grateful for the charges that have been brought against him," McBath said of Dunn. "We are so grateful for the truth. We are so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all."

On Dunn's potentially lengthy sentence, Davis' father, Ron Davis, said: "He's going to learn that he must be remorseful for the killing of my son, that it was not just another day at the office."

State Attorney Angela Corey said her office planned to retry Dunn on a first-degree murder charge, and she hoped jurors would come forward and tell prosecutors where they questioned their case. Jurors declined to talk to the media.

Earlier in the day, the panel said in a note to Judge Russell L. Healey they couldn't agree on the murder charge. They also had the option of convicting him of second-degree murder or manslaughter. The judge asked them to continue their work, and they went back to the deliberation room for two more hours before returning with a verdict.

Dunn claimed he acted in self-defence, testifying he thought he saw a firearm pointed at him from the SUV as the argument escalated. No weapon was found in the SUV.

Dunn told jurors he feared for his life, perceiving "this was a clear and present danger." Dunn, who has a concealed weapons permit, fired 10 shots, hitting the vehicle nine times. Davis was the only person hit.

Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, said the defendant was shocked when the verdict was read.

"He's in disbelief," Strolla said. "Even sitting next to me, he said, 'How is this happening?' "

He said he plans to appeal.

Prosecutors contended Dunn opened fire because he felt disrespected by Davis. The teen made his friend turn the music back up after they initially turned it down at Dunn's request. Dunn was parked in the spot next to the SUV outside the convenience store.

Authorities said Dunn became enraged about the music and ensuing argument. One person walking out of the convenience store said he heard Dunn say, "You are not going to talk to me like that."

Dunn testified he heard someone in the SUV shouting expletives and the word "cracker," a derogatory term for white people.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2014 A6

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