It was the evening after Thanksgiving two years ago. Jordan Davis was hanging out in Jacksonville with three friends–Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson, and Tommie Stornes who was at the wheel of his Dodge Durango. They were all teenagers. Jordan was 17. The quartet went to Town Center Mall in early evening, flirted with a few girls, bought a few things. Jordan had just scored his first after-school job. He checked out his girlfriend at Urban Outfitters. Then they decided to go back to Jordan’s house to play Xbox. They played music in the car, as teenagers across the globe do.
On the way they stopped at a gas station. One of them wanted cigarettes. Tommie ran into the store. The music was loud. And yes, the four kids were black.
Michael Dunn, a beefy, 240-pound, 45-year-old white man who’d pulled up for gas didn’t like the music he was hearing. He’d called it “thug music” to his girlfriend, according to a subsequent report in Rolling Stone on the murder Dun n was about to commit. He lowered his window. Told the boys to turn the music down. One of the boys did so. Jordan would have none of it. He turned up the volume again. Dunn was mad. He cussed. Jordan cussed.
No sooner had Tommie returned and began to put on his seat belt than Dunn had produced a gun and fired three shots. Tommie sped off. Dunn sprang out of his car, crouched, fired more, hitting the car.
The boys drove a short distance to a nearby shopping center. Three of the boys were unhurt, though two of them had blood on their clothes. Jordan was slumped over. He was hit. Three times. He died.
Dunn had fired 10 shots from his 9mm Taurus, which he kept in the glove box. Dunn then fled. He didn;t call police. He went back to the hotel where he was staying. He walked his dog. He had a drink. He ordered pizza.
Dunn, a computer programmer, would later tell detectives that the boys had defied his orders, and that he thought the boys had pointed a gun at him. No gun was ever found, and Dunn’s girlfriend said he’d never said anything about a gun before he was arrested. He’d repeat the gun story on the stand in his second trial in Duval County, which ended today.
A jury of 10 white and two black jurors found Dunn guilty of first-degree murder today after five and a half hours of deliberation, compared to the 32 hours the previous jury spent deliberating in the first trial: In February, Dunn had been convicted on three counts of second-degree attempted murder because he’d shot at all four teens. But that jury could not agree on the murder charge. A mistrial was declared.
The State Attorney was not seeking the death penalty. Dunn will spend the rest of his life in prison, as the first-degree murder conviction means a mandatory life sentence, no parole.
Dunn murdered Jordan Davis nine months after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, another 17 year old black youth, in what Zimmerman said was self-defense, during a scuffle. Zimmerman was found not guilty for that killing, which put in question Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but never came close to repealing or diluting it despite the demonstrations and calls on the Legislature to revisit the 2005 law. Florida pioneered the Stand Your Ground defense, which gives an individual the right to shoot at an assailant without retreating or seeking an alternative first.
Dunn involved self-defense rather than Stand Your Ground in the Jacksonville case. But his ex-fiancee undermined his credibility by telling the jury what Dunn thought of “thug” music and telling jurors that he hadn’t spoken of a gun before his arrest.
“Let me be clear,” Erin Wolfson, a prosecutor, told the jury, in statements reported by The New York Times. “There was no shotgun in that Durango that night. There was no stick. There was no branch. There was no hollow pipe. There was no weapon.”