At Michael Dunn’s recent “loud music” murder trial the jury found him guilty of three counts of attempted murder and one count of hurling missiles at an occupied vehicle–convictions sufficient for up to 75 years in prison. (Hat-tip to ‏@TCinOP for pointing out the News4Jax piece on this story.)

The jury hung, however, on the charge of first degree murder (or any of its lesser included offenses, such as second degree murder and manslaughter) in the shooting death of Jordan Davis, apparently because at least three jurors they felt that the State prosecutors had failed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt (the legal standard for a legal defense of self-defense in all American states except for Ohio).

Florida State Prosecutor Angela Corey, who led the first Dunn prosecution, had consistently stated that she intends to re-try Dunn on the hung murder charge–and now a date for that re-trial has been set.  And it’s not far off:  May 5.

Simultaneously with setting the re-trial date, the judge also ruled that Dunn’s sentencing his existing convictions will be deferred until after a verdict has been reached on the murder charge.  Given the complexity of sentencing generally–typically a pre-sentencing report taking several weeks to prepare is required–and the probable likelihood that a verdict on the murder charges will be in hand in less than 8 weeks, it makes sense to simply have one sentencing process after the second trial.

In addition, there is some uncertainty under Florida law whether convictions involving the state’s “10-20-Life” statute must be run consecutively or whether they may be run concurrently.  The difference for Dunn on even just his existing convictions would be between a sentence of as long as 75 years if run consecutively (effectively a life sentence) and as “few” as 20 years if run concurrently.  

A delay in sentencing allows for the possibility that the Florida state Supreme Court may address the issue by the time Dunn is sentenced.

Alternatively, if on re-trial Dunn is found guilty of first degree murder that conviction alone would be sufficient to sentence him to life in prison, and the current “10-20-Life” confusion would not be immediately relevant for purposes of his sentencing.

Separately, Dunn’s legal counsel for the first trial, Corey Strolla, is no longer representing him.  Instead, a public defender by the name of Waffa Jamal Hanania has been appointed by the court to handle Dunn’s murder re-trial.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.