“Loud Music” Murder Trial Day 1: Animosity and Provocation Narratives Emerge

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The key legal narratives of both the State and defense began to emerge this afternoon as the Michael Dunn "loud music" murder trial kicked off with an afternoon launch. Dunn, 47-years-old, is charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The State believes Dunn shot Jordan out of anger over Jordan's loud music, whereas Dunn claims he shot in lawful self-defense. Dunn is also charged with attempted murder for shooting the other three young men in the car, Leland Brunson, Tevin Thompson, and Tommie Storns. Finally, he is charged with the offense of firing a gun into an occupied vehicle.

The trial started with Judge Russel Healey instructing the jury on their responsibilities in hearing the case, as well as various procedural facets common to any criminal trial.

Following these introductory remarks, the State's opening was presented by Assistant State Attorney John Guy, and delivered in the emotive style so familiar from his performances during the Zimmerman trial. Alas, he chose to speak in such a soft voice that he was essentially inaudible. The use of headphones, however, makes it possible to hear his remarks.

Consistent with the state going for 1st degree murder, and barring that 2nd degree murder, Guy emphasized the several concrete steps Dunn had to take in order to bring fire upon the Durango -- open glove compartment, remove pistol, chamber a round, grip the gun with both hands, fire, fire again, fire again, etc. -- all presumably to set the hook for premeditation and first degree murder. In addition, he emphasized Dunn's angry use of deadly force violence in response to being, as Guy put it, merely disrespected, to set the hook for malice necessary for second degree murder.

Defense Attorney Cory Strolla spent roughly twice as much time on his opening remarks, focusing on the three themes beloved by all defense counsel. First, the evidence is weak and contradictory and was collected and evaluated by police and prosecutors in an unprofessional and untrusthworthy manner. Second, if any one of the jurors has not been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of Dunn's guilt, "stick to your guns" and do not allow yourself to be persuaded by the other jurors -- each of you is bound to make your own decision. And three, if you can hold off coming to a conclusion until we have a chance to present our side of things, you'll see that there are reasonable explanations for our client's conduct on every front.

Following the defense opening statement, Judge Healey moved immediately to the state's witnesses for the day, which numbered six. Unlike her background role in the Zimmerman trial, here State Attorney Angela Corey took the leading role, assuming responsibility for direct questioning herself.

For the full-length post covering all six witnesses, click on over to Legal Insurrection:

“Loud Music” Murder Trial Day 1: Animosity and Provocation Narratives Emerge

--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. In addition to the book, Andrew also conducts Law of Self Defense Seminars all around the country. Seminars for 2014 are currently being scheduled, if you'd like to see one held in your area fill out the comment box on the LOSD Seminar review page, where you can also see reviews of recently completed seminars in New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and elsewhere. Andrew is also a contributing author on self defense law topics to Combat Handguns, Ammoland.com, Legal Insurrection, and others. You can follow Andrew on Twitter at @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.