A Florida man reacted viciously to an argument over loud music with teenagers in a store parking lot and fired multiple shots into their vehicle, killing one of them, and then drove away as if nothing happened, a prosecutor said Wednesday in a closing argument in the man's trial.
Assistant state attorney Erin Wolfson told jurors that the evidence clearly shows 17-year-old Jordan Davis was unarmed when Michael Dunn, 47, fired 10 shots at a Dodge Durango where Davis was sitting. Wolfson said no witnesses saw any of the four teenagers in the vehicle with a weapon and police searches turned up none.
"This defendant was disrespected by a 17-year-old teenager, and he lost it. He wasn't happy with Jordan Davis' attitude. What was his response? `You're not going to talk to me like that,"' Wolfson said. "He took these actions because it was premeditated. It was not self-defence."
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations later Wednesday in Dunn's trial on a first-degree murder charge, after the defence and prosecution complete closing arguments. Dunn faces life in prison if convicted. He also faces attempted murder charges related to the other vehicle occupants.
Dunn has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defence when he fatally shot Davis, of Georgia, outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012.
The trial comes less than a year after a former Florida neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerman, was acquitted in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
In his testimony, Dunn told jurors he was in Jacksonville with his fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, to attend his son's wedding. He had brought along his 7-month-old dog, and at one point in testimony, he wiped away tears when talking about his fiancee and dog.
Dunn said he and Rouer went to the convenience store for wine and chips. He said he pulled in next to an SUV playing loud music.
"My rear view mirror was shaking. My eardrums were vibrating. It was ridiculously loud," Dunn said.
Dunn said he asked the teens turn down the music and they turned it off. "I said, 'Thank you,"' Dunn said. But soon afterward, Dunn said he heard someone in the SUV shouting expletives and the word "cracker" at him. Dunn is white, and the teens in the SUV were black. Cracker is a derogatory term for white people.
The music was turned back on, and Dunn testified, "I wasn't going to ask for favors anymore."
Dunn said the men in the SUV had "menacing expressions," and he asked the teens whether they were talking about him. He said he wanted to calm down the situation but saw a teen in the backseat reach down for something. Dunn said it looked as if the barrel of a shotgun was sticking out the window.
One of the teens stepped out of the SUV, Dunn said, and he felt "this was a clear and present danger." He reached for his pistol in a glove box.
Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, fired nine shots into the car, according to an affidavit. Authorities say a 10th shot fired by Dunn missed the car. Once his fiancee returned to the car, he drove off out of fear of the SUV returning, he said.
Didn't call police
Dunn said he told Rouer on the drive back to the hotel that he had shot in self-defence. But Rouer, called by prosecutors as a rebuttal witness, said Dunn never told her he thought Davis had a gun.
"I didn't do anything wrong," Dunn said he told her.
Dunn and Rouer drove back to their hotel, and Dunn said he didn't call the police, because his focus was on the well-being of Rouer, whom he described as in hysterics. The next morning, Dunn said, Rouer insisted she wanted to go home and they drove back to their home in Brevard County, 281 kilometres away. There, Dunn said he contacted a neighbour who is in law enforcement for advice on how to turn himself in.
In her closing argument, Wolfson said the actions Dunn took after the shooting are those of someone who thought he wouldn't get caught.
"This defendant didn't tell anyone because he thought he had gotten away with murder," the prosecutor said.
Gun or stick?
During cross-examination, prosecutor John Guy challenged Dunn's assertion that he had told Rouer after the shooting that he thought one of the teens had a gun.
"You never told the love of your life that those guys had a gun," Guy said. "Did you?"
Dunn responded, "You were not there."
Guy challenged Dunn on other parts of his story, citing letters Dunn had written from jail and interviews with investigators. The prosecutor said Dunn had told detectives the day after the shooting that it could have been a stick he saw pointing from the vehicle. But Dunn countered he was just suggesting a far-fetched possibility.
Guy also suggested that Dunn was angry because he was being disrespected by a young black man. Dunn responded, "I was being threatened, not disrespected."