The Florida murder trial of middle-aged white man Michael Dunn has been called the “next Trayvon Martin” case, but there are key differences between the two high-profile shootings.
Dunn shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a convenience store parking lot after an argument reportedly broke out about loud music coming from Davis’ car in November 2012.
Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed Florida 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after he grew suspicious about what Martin was doing wandering around his neighbourhood back in February 2012.
Both cases involve adult white men accused of shooting unarmed black teenagers. However, there are important differences to note in the cases, which resulted in a not-guilty verdict for Zimmerman and a hung jury for Dunn for the most serious charge against him.
A major distinction is that in the Dunn case, there was no physical altercation between him and Davis, and there was definitely a physical altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. While Zimmerman stayed on the scene after he killed Martin, Dunn reportedly went to a motel and ordered pizza with his fiancée after he shot Davis.
There were also eye witnesses to the shooting in the Dunn case, unlike in the Zimmerman case. Davis was in his car with three of his friends in a convenience store parking lot when Davis opened fire on the vehicle.
Some legal experts thought that even with Florida’s notorious “stand your ground” law, it would be easier for a jury to convict Dunn because there’s more evidence in this more recent case. University of Florida law professor Kenneth Nunn told Business Insider in August that “there’s an inference of guilt when someone flees the scene” and that witness testimony would help the prosecution’s case.
But those predictions turned out to be wrong in this trial.
Dunn was found guilty of three counts of second-degree attempted murder for firing at the car that contained Davis and three of his friends, for which he faces 60 years of prison time. But those charges don’t relate to Davis’ killing. The jury was hung on the first-degree murder charge, and the judge declared a mistrial for that count. The jury also declined to convict Dunn of lesser charges, like second- or third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Some jurors reportedly thought that Dunn was justified in killing Davis. Dunn — who says he thought Davis had a gun — claimed self-defence and said race did not motivate the shooting.
Dunn will likely be retried on the first-degree murder charge, according to The New York Times.
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