JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Character witnesses for a Florida man charged with fatally shooting a teen after an argument over loud music say they never knew him to be violent, as prosecutors rested their case in the first-degree murder trial Monday.
Michael Dunn is pleading not guilty to first-degree murder, saying he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Jordan Davis, 17, of Marietta, Ga., outside a Jacksonville convenience store in November 2012.
The 47-year-old had been at his son’s wedding before he pulled up to the convenience store where Davis was with his friends. Dunn’s ex-wife, Phyllis Molinaro, and son, Chris Dunn, told jurors Monday that Dunn didn’t appear drunk and was in good spirits at the wedding.
“He seemed fine. He seemed happy to be there,” Molinaro said. Asked if she had ever seen him impaired in the past, she laughed and said she had.
According to authorities, an argument began after Dunn told Davis and his friends to turn the music down they were listening to in an SUV outside the store. One of Davis’ friends lowered the volume, but Davis told him to turn it back up.
Officials say Dunn became enraged and he and Davis began arguing. Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, pulled a 9 mm handgun from the glove compartment of his car, according to an affidavit, and fired shots into the Dodge Durango. Nine bullet holes were found in the car.
Emotional testimony came from Davis’ father, Ronald.
Sometimes with tears in his eyes, he said his son’s friends Leland Brunson and Tevin Thompson, both of whom had been in the Durango with Jordan Davis the night he was killed, came by his home in the days following the shooting.
“They came over to the house and they talked to me about how they were sorry,” Davis said. “The boys were just so sorry that my son was killed and they were trying to console me.”
Prosecutors rested their case after an associate medical examiner testified that the first bullet that hit Davis in the abdomen likely killed him. The bullet went from his lower right abdomen, into his diaphragm, through his liver and hit his aorta, said Stacey Simons, the associate medical examiner.
“I believe it would have been fatal within a matter of minutes,” Simons said.
At the end of the day, Dunn’s defense attorney, Cory Strolla, told the judge he expected to call only one or two more witnesses on Tuesday before wrapping up the defense presentation.
Under cross-examination, Simons said it was unlikely Davis was standing up when he was shot. Strolla had argued in opening statements that Davis had threatened Dunn with a 4-inch knife. Simons said the bullet appeared to have struck something hard, like a car door, before hitting Davis.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst Sukhan Warf said toxicology tests on Davis showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his body. No gun was found in the SUV.
Strolla called several friends and a co-worker of Dunn’s to the stand. They testified they had never seen him get angry, and that he had been something of a peacekeeper.
Beverly Berry, who with her husband met Dunn through Dunn’s parents and often socialized with him said he they had not seen him get angry.
“Never have I observed anything other than a very calm demeanor,” she said.
Another law enforcement department analyst, Maria Pagan, testified earlier in the day about the steps Dunn took before shooting the teen, bolstering prosecutors’ contention that he acted with premeditation.
Dunn would have had to remove the gun from its holster, load the chamber with a bullet and then apply six pounds of pressure to fire it, Pagan said.
Dunn fired the gun 10 times, hitting the SUV nine times, and he would have had to pull the trigger every time using more than six pounds of pressure each time, Pagan said.
Pagan answered affirmatively when prosecutor Angela Corey asked, “Does that take a conscious effort of the shooter to have a second-round come out?”
In continuing to talk about his son’s friends visit to his home, Ronald Davis said Leland Brunson, Jordan Davis’ best friend, was crying uncontrollably.
“He was going back and forth from the living room to bedroom and sitting on the bed, then came back to the living room,” Ronald Davis said. “Tevin Thompson was crying. He usually has a big smile on his face.”
Davis said he has little recollection of the visit because of his own emotional agony.
“I think I said at the time that I was shocked that my son was killed,” he said.
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