Partial Verdict Reached In Fla. Gas Station Shooting

Arun Rath speaks with NPR's Greg Allen about the verdict reached this evening on Michael Dunn's murder charges in the 2012 killing of a teenager in a Jacksonville gas station parking lot.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

In Jacksonville, a trial that has once again thrown a spotlight on the state's Stand Your Ground law has ended with a mistrial on the main charge of murder. Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old software designer, was charged with murder and four other counts after shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a dispute over loud music.

NPR's Greg Allen has been following the case and joins us now. Greg, mistrial on murder, but what about the other charges?

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, Arun, there were five charges in all, and the other four we've - got guilty verdicts on. These are four charges where three charges of attempted murder. There were four young men in the car that Michael Dunn fired at. Three of them were not killed, and there were attempted murder charges filed for each of those. There's also a count which was for shooting into a car.

All those carry significant penalties. I think it's 20 years is the mandatory minimum for each of the attempted murder charges, 15 years for shooting into the car. And if the judge decides he can do those consecutively, that could bring Michael Dunn a sentence of 75 years. So we're talking about just with those counts, very significant sins.

RATH: But what do you explain - how do you make of this mixed verdict?

ALLEN: Well, it's shocking to many of the people watching it. And it's just a tough one to explain, because how do you find someone who fires several shots - he fired, in all, 10 bullets. Several of them went into the car. This was - it came after dispute about loud music. Michael Dunn said that he asked them to turn the radio down. They did, and they turned it back up, and they began threatening him. He saw one man, in particular Jordan Davis, pull up what he said was a shotgun. He said he saw Jordan Davis get out of the car, started to come toward him, and that's when he fired - he pulled his gun out of his glove compartment - Michael Dunn did - and fired several shots into the car.

No other witnesses saw Jordan David get out of the car. And, in fact, no gun, no shotgun or any weapon of any kind was found by police. But certainly, some juror seemed to believe Dunn's story, at least enough of Dunn's story, to believe that he was acting in a self-defense when he shot and killed Jordan Davis.

RATH: And how does this case involve Florida's controversial stand your ground law?

ALLEN: Well, it's interesting the question that goes forward here, because, you know, Dunn's lawyer Cory Strolla and many other lawyers say this is really not a stand your ground case. in Florida, we have a special system where there's a hearing that's held often before the trial where if you can show that you acted in self-defense, you're found immune of all charges.

Now, Corey Strolla did not seek that special hearing in this case, just as George Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara didn't seek it in that case. However, that stand your ground language is in Florida's self-defense law that'll - that talks about justifiable use of deadly force. It says if you fear your life is in danger, you have a right to use deadly force to defend yourself, you have no duty to retreat. And that certainly was a very key part of this case, and that's why many people do still believe that is a stand your ground case.

RATH: And, of course, we saw how charged the George Zimmerman verdict. What's the reaction been like so far with this case?

ALLEN: Well, as you can imagine, it's still developing with just a few, you know, just shortly we got this verdict. And as I say, it was shocking to many people. There were protesters outside this trial for most of the time in Jacksonville into the whole two weeks, and there's many more out there today. People have been using bullhorns and are very upset about this, I think. But we will have another trial here where the judge is setting a date for the sentencing on these first charges. It's not clear there'll be another trial, But we'll see what Angela Corey, the state prosecutor, says. There could be, and it depends what the sentencing is, I suppose, and what they feel they can prove when they go to court.

RATH: Thanks very much. That was NPR's Greg Allen.

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