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Mid-Day Wrapup: “Loud Music” Murder Trial, Day Two

Mid-Day Wrapup: “Loud Music” Murder Trial, Day Two

Four first responders, and Kevin Thompson, Durango passenger, testified

The court moved through five witnesses this morning, as they proceeded with the State’s presentation of its case in the “loud music” first degree murder trial of Michael Dunn, for the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

The first four witnesses were all first responders–three police officers and a Fire & Rescue paramedic–who arrived at the scene after the shooting had taken place. In order they were:

Robert Holmes, Patrol Officer, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

(Patrol Officer Robert Holmes)

(Patrol Officer Robert Holmes)

Assistant State Attorney handled the direct examination of Holmes.

(Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson)

(Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson)

William Spicer, Engineer/Paramedic, Jacksonville Fire & Rescue

(William Spicer, Paramedic)

(William Spicer, Paramedic)

State Attorney Angela Corey led the direct examination of Spicer.

(State Attorney Angela Corey)

(State Attorney Angela Corey)

Sergeant Shore, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

(Sergeant Shore, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office)

(Sergeant Shore, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office)

ASA Wolfson once again led direct with Shore.

Michael Forster, then-patrolman (currently bailiff), Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

(Patrolman Michael Forster)

(Patrolman Michael Forster)

ASA Wolfson was again on direct for Forster.

For all these first four witnesses, the state’s direct was largely procedural, as well as intending to diminish the ability of defense counsel Cory Strolla to create reasonable doubt on the basis of improper, inadequate, or incompetent investigative practices.  Strolla’s remit on cross-examination was to try to accomplish precisely that objective.

(Defense counsel Cory Strolla)

(Defense counsel Cory Strolla)

It was the fifth witness of the morning, however, that took the greatest time and provided the most interesting testimony.

Kevin Thompson, Durango Passenger

Kevin Thompson was one of the four young men in the Durango when Michael Dunn opened fire. He was seated in the front passenger seat, and directly across from Dunn in the driver’s seat of his Volkswagon.  This was the first witness of the trial able to testify as to the actual events.

(Kevin Thompson, passenger in Durango)

(Kevin Thompson, passenger in Durango)

Assistant State Attorney John Guy, not active since giving the State’s opening, led direct on Thompson.

(Assistant State Attorney John Guy)

(Assistant State Attorney John Guy)

Also present in the court room during Thompson’s testimony were the parents of Jordan Davis, seen here to the left and right behind the woman in the foreground.

(Parents of Jordan Davis)

(Parents of Jordan Davis)

The camera also caught the impassive image of the defendant, Michael Dunn, several times during Thompson’s testimony.

(Defendant Michael Dunn)

(Defendant Michael Dunn)

Well, I’d hoped for a more substantive mid-day wrap-up, but court’s about to start again, so I’ll have to do that in the end-of-day post.

Don’t forget, if you’re following my live tweets at @LawSelfDefense, you MUST also follow me at @LawSelfDefense2, because Twitter inevitably shuts off one or another of my accounts from time to time due to the volume of my live tweeting.

See you all back in court!

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, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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PLEASE refrain from putting Corey’s face on this blog !

Some of us were trying to eat ….

ScottTheEngineer | February 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm

The dudes buddies have amazingly similar stories. Apparently when the long hair guy dances everyone pays attention.
Also, I didn’t hear it asked but if someone just blew your buddy away and shot your car 8 times why would you then go back for safety after getting away? This makes no sense. revenge?

Andrew, You are like those reality shows that break just before it gets good!

As for what Dunn is contemplating, it should be how life in prison will be in Florida.

Incidentally, any of you following me at @LawSelfDefense, be sure to also follow me @LawSelfDefense2.

When I live-tweet a trial Twitter frowns upon my frequency of tweets, and periodically suspends my @LawSelfDefense to give it time to cool off.

I switch to my backup @LawSelfDefense2 to wait out the suspension–usually only an hour or two, then comes back automatically–but that backup account has only 25% of the followers of my primary account.

Just FYI.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense (and @LawSelfDefense2)

As Andrew knows I am a huge proponent of Carrying for Defense and if necessary using a firearm for defense, however, at this point baring some earth shattering evidence, this just wasn’t self defense.

To me having a firearm without a round in the chamber, that is not on your person, isn’t “carrying for defense”. A gun without a round in the chamber is a really expensive and ineffective club. A gun that is not on your person on in an area with ease of access is also just as useless.

I just can’t wait until the prosecution gets to the fact that Dunn left the scene and went home. I don’t care if you fired 10 rounds and hit nothing but air, you don’t just go home and have dinner, geez.

I also wonder if this guys defense has already given up, this almost seems to be the opposite of the Zimmerman trial. In the Zimmerman trial the prosecution won the case for the defense, this seems to be going the exact opposite. The thing that really PO’s me about this is that if this goes down the way I expect and frankly think at this point that it probably should, Corey is gonna be able to look like the is pulling flowers out of her butt and making up for the Zimmerman case. Not to mention the ammo it will give the Anti-Gun nuts.

I also wonder about Dunn’s mental stability. At this point to me it looks as if this guy got pissed, shot 4 kids, then fled the scene. I almost think an insanity plea would have made more sense. I don’t know, maybe my opinion will evolve as the trial progresses.

NOTE: This guy should have read Andrew’s Book; The Law of Self Defense, then he might not be in this mess.


    “I just can’t wait until the prosecution gets to the fact that Dunn left the scene and went home. I don’t care if you fired 10 rounds and hit nothing but air, you don’t just go home and have dinner, geez.”

    Ah, but there’s a reason ! His girlfriend was worried about her dogs, THAT’S why they drove several hours away, and then (allegedly) gave consideration to maybe asking a friend the next day if they should talk to a lawyer or something.

    I mean it’s not like he emptied the WHOLE magazine at an x4 occupied car in a public place at point blank range – just the first 10 rounds.

    As a general rule I stay away from speculation on a case I’m covering in real time, preferring to stick to the facts in evidence and the law.

    In this case, however, the speculation is around “facts” that have no possible relevance to the charges in this case.

    Using my decades-long experience of human nature, I expect Dunn was returning from his son’s wedding having imbibed more adult beverage than Florida’s traffic cops would consider appropriate.

    This intoxication led to both his overreaction to being “dissed” by a young man acting like a punk (poor judgment in the use of force), and his flight from the scene immediately thereafter (he didn’t want to have to deal with cops while he was driving intoxicated).

    He thought he’d sleep it off and it would all be a long-distant memory. Who knew a common thief would happen to note his license plate?

    Of course, once the cops found him, and he knew the young man had died, self-defense was the only path he could take. So, here he is, with a defense floundering (forgive me) like a drunk.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      tom swift in reply to Andrew Branca. | February 7, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Using my decades-long experience of human nature, I expect Dunn was returning from his son’s wedding having imbibed more adult beverage than Florida’s traffic cops would consider appropriate.

      This intoxication led to both his overreaction to being “dissed” by a young man acting like a punk (poor judgment in the use of force), and his flight from the scene immediately thereafter (he didn’t want to have to deal with cops while he was driving intoxicated).


      Well, hit me with a clue-by-four, this scenario seems to fit many otherwise puzzling aspects of this case. As a non-drinker, I constantly forget what an ever-looming factor alcohol is in many people’s lives.

      My appreciation to you for the insight, sir.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Andrew Branca. | February 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks Andrew, I hadn’t taken the drinking aspect into account.

      Now the question that I feel compelled to ask is how would drinking in general affect a claim of self defense. First of all isn’t illegal to drink and carry and second wouldn’t that blow a self defense claim right out of the water since you were carrying while intoxicated?

        In some states it’s illegal to carry concealed and consume alcohol (Virginia, for example) and in others it is not (Massachusetts).

        But of course concealed carry and self-defense aren’t the same thing.

        Any use of defensive force must fall within the bounds of objective reasonableness. If one’s intoxication results in unreasonable conduct, the claim of self-defense will fail. But in theory one can be tipsy, be attacked by a murderous psychopath, and you’re not obliged to just let yourself get killed.

        If your conduct would have been reasonable had you not been intoxicated, it’s reasonable if you are intoxicated.

        The difficulty is less legal principle than one of narrative. The State will naturally use your intoxication as a surrogate for “unreasonable”. That doesn’t mean it’s true, but were I they I would certainly bang the hell out of that narrative.

        To flip the coin, if your conduct was objectively unreasonable, the fact of intoxication will not save your claim of self-defense.

        Get drunk, act stupid, that’s on you.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | February 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      The —uhmm— call it preevidence, the facts that are supposed to come in, indicate that he only had two glasses of champagne. Plus under the circumstances, the first volley, the one where the SUV was not moving are fairly tightly grouped for a person who was inebriated enough to let anger override his better judgement.

      You think that anyone in this day age would expect to shoot someone at a gas station and not get caught. A software engineer? Someone who knows what kind of systems are around all over the place? It’s actually a surprise that they did not have an external set of cameras.

      I think he thought that no one was hurt and that they were gangbangers who wanted to steer clear of the police. With both cars gone and only the store people calling police, the police would give it low priority. In the meantime he could talk to people with legal knowledge and get advice on what to do.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Gremlin1974. | February 7, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    If you think a conviction gives ammo to the antigun nuts, just think what an acquital will do.

    “I just can’t wait until the prosecution gets to the fact that Dunn left the scene and went home. I don’t care if you fired 10 rounds and hit nothing but air, you don’t just go home and have dinner, geez.”
    Well if you buy that Dunn believed that there was a shotgun/rifle–well 4 black teenagers listening to hiphop real loud and pointing a gun at you. What do you think they are? You don’t think they might come back with 10 friends all armed to the teeth gunning for you? I would hightail it too.

    If he thought that he hadn’t actually hit anyone — I have had four serious incidents in my life. Three on a bicycle and one in a dojo. In each case, I was lucky not to die. In each case after I got over the shakes, I tried to put it of my mind and pretend it didn’t happen. I can imagine Dunn reacting the same way. In fact I think Strolla is setting that up. He keeps asking everyone if they were in shock. How much do you want to bet that in closing he won’t say.”All these people admit they were in shock. You think after having a gun pulled on him and having to shoot his way out of the situation, Michael Dunn wasn’t in shock too?”

    AS for the dinner Strolla claims it was for his girlfriend. So far the claims that Strolla made in opening arguments have been ( AFAIK ) 100% true. I don’t know if Dunn actually had any of the pizza himself.

    I look at it very differently though. I ask myself, what would I do if I shot someone and knew that I had no legal justification.
    I would pout my ass in gear and get it over the border and on the way to some nonextradictable country as fast as I could. I would not do on doing things like nothing happened.

    I don’t think the prosecution won the Zimmerman case for him. I think the facts won it for him. The prosecution did the best they could with crap. Since at times they cheated they actually did better then the best they could.

    Maybe Dunn is nuts. Personally I think he might get off with a claim of temporary insanity. Loud music is known to increase blood pressure. I suspect in people with high blood pressure the effect is even worse and Dunn is the perfect candidate. He could claim the music drove him nuts. I would like to see him get off that way because some players loud music might tone it down for fear that some gun toting old geezer with high blood pressure might put them away. Sadly he decided not to go that way.

    To me the testimony today that Davis freaked out, and kept trying to get a rise out of Dunn and kept getting madder when Dunn refused to be baited screams. I think what happened is that when Davis threatened him, Dunn reached over for the gun, and put a chamber in the round. When Davis’s final attempt to get a rise out of Dunn got s small rise from Dunn he decided to go one better and pointed something that looked like a gun at Dunn. Then Dunn opened fire.

    In the end all the talk about music and diners is smoke. The whole thing will boil down to one thing, does the jury buy that Dunn reasonably believed Davis had a rifle?

    I think Strolla has a two pronged attack to deal with that. The first is to convince the jury that Corey is trying to hide the fact that the boys ditched something. I think he has gone a long way in that regard. He’s shown that they put up three witnesses who have legal trouble and have been treated leniently. He’s shown a witness whose watching the trial on youtube. He’s shown that they didn’t try to prevent witnesses from talking to each other. He’s shown witnesses talked on the phone. He shown the guys did not immediately call for help but instead did something.

    The other prong, well I have to leave some suspense. 🙂

Is it just me, or is his lawyer a buffoon ?

I’ve lost count of how many times he asks a state witness a question, and the witness says ‘No, that’s not right’, and the lawyer just ignores the answer and moves on to something else.

    His intended narrative is conflicting with the facts in evidence.

    The facts don’t always win, but they get the odds.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Delicately put 🙂

      Hey, maybe the state will bring in Dr Bow Wow from the GZ case for the entertainment value ?

        Man, that Zimmerman trial was a perfect storm. Dr. Bow-wow-wow. Fired for, among other things, washing her feet in the forensics sink, the one they wash the bodily fluids down. Gawk!

        And Andrea Corey’s hand-picked selection.

        Corey’s doing a very professional job in the Dunn trial–of course, it’s not that hard a case–but outside the court room her conduct and misjudgments are impossible to discount.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

By the way, you guys are in the wrong thread now. The end-of-day wrap up has been posted.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense