Bob Mack, AP
Defense lawyer Cory Strolla, left, talks with Michael Dunn during the first day of Dunn’s trial Feb. 6, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla.
JACKSONVILLE, FL. – The three teenagers inside SUV with Jordan Davis told jurors Friday that that Davis didn’t threaten Michael David Dunn, didn’t brandish a weapon, and didn’t exit the vehicle before Dunn shot him to death during a parking-lot dispute over loud rap music.
Testimony from Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson and Tommie Stornes highlighted the second day of Dunn’s highly publicized murder trial at the Duval County Courthouse. Each spoke at the witness stand for roughly an hour, describing the fatal shooting of Nov. 23, 2012.
Dunn, 47, a South Patrick Shores software engineer, is being tried for first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. If convicted, Dunn faces at least 25 years imprisonment. He’s told detectives that he opened fire on the quartet’s Dodge Durango because he feared for his life and thought he saw the 17-year-old Davis holding a shotgun or pipe-like weapon. Prosecutors, however, there was no weapon and that Dunn became enraged during a verbal altercation with Davis and his friends at a gas station on Jacksonville’s south side.
Because Dunn is white and Davis was black, some observers see similar parallels in the case to the fatal confrontation between Floridians George Zimmerman and black teen Trayvon Martin.
Davis and his friends had been “girl shopping” at St. Johns Town Center mall before stopping at the gas station to buy gum and cigarettes Stornes, now 20, said the Durango was equipped with an amplifier and two 12-inch speakers, and they were listening to loud bass-thumping rap music.
Thompson, 18, testified that Dunn parked his Volkswagen Jetta close to the SUV. That’s when Dunn said, “Turn your music down. I can’t hear myself think.” Thompson turned down the volume — but Davis said, “(Expletive) that. Turn the music back up.” So Thompson did.
Thompson said the verbal exchange continued, and Davis told Dunn, “(Expletive) you.” Thompson said Dunn asked Jordan, “Are you talking to me?” reached for a gun and fired at Davis’ door.
Brunson, 18, a backseat passenger, tried to pull Davis down to take cover. Afterward, Brunson called Davis’ name and he didn’t respond, so he checked his body to see if he had been shot. “When I reached and touched him, blood appeared on my fingers,” Brunson said.
After Brunson described how Davis was “gasping for air” with his head in Brunson’s lap, Davis’ mother, Lucy McBath, dabbed at her eyes with a tissue in the courtroom audience.
During rapid-fire cross-examination by defense lawyer Cory Strolla, the teens testified they could not hear everything Davis said to Dunn because of the music’s vehicle-rattling volume.
Strolla asked why the teens did not dial 911 when they pulled into an adjacent shopping-plaza parking lot immediately after the shooting. Strolla told jurors they had ample time and opportunity to stash a weapon there before they returned to the gas station seeking help.
Strolla also noted that police did not seal off the shopping plaza during their crime scene investigation, so vehicles and pedestrians had “unfettered, unrestricted access” to that area.
Stornes testified that he was on probation for a third-degree felony the night of the 7:39 p.m. shooting, and he violated his 7 p.m. home curfew. His probation ended last August.
Including four alternates, the racially mixed jury is made up of 10 women and six men. Circuit Judge Russell Healey ordered the jury to remain sequestered for the duration of the trial. Strolla requested the move, citing “extensive, inflammatory and prejudicial” pretrial publicity of the case
Testimony in the case resumes Saturday.