US man charged in loud-music killing takes stand
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) — The Florida man charged with fatally shooting a 17-year-old boy after an argument over loud music testified Tuesday that he thought he saw the barrel of a gun from a neighboring vehicle pointed at him and that he feared for his life before firing his weapon.
Dunn is charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and says he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store in November 2012.
The trial comes less than a year after a former Florida neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, was acquitted in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
Both cases have stoked racial tensions. Dunn is white and Davis was black. No weapons were found in the SUV where Davis was riding with two other teenagers.
Michael Dunn said he tried to de-escalate the confrontation with the teens.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing,” Dunn said.
The defense rested its case Tuesday, and then prosecutors called Dunn’s fiancee back to the witness stand. Rhonda Rouer contradicted Dunn’s assertion that he had told her he had seen a gun in the teens’ SUV.
Dunn told jurors he was in Jacksonville with his Rouer to attend his son’s wedding. He said he and Rouer went to the convenience store after the wedding for wine and chips. He said he pulled into a spot next to an SUV where music with a “thumping” bass was playing.
“It got really loud,” Dunn said. “My rear view mirror was shaking. My eardrums were vibrating. It was ridiculously loud.”
Dunn said he asked the three men in the SUV to turn down the music and they turned off the music. “I said, ‘Thank you,’” Dunn said. But soon afterward, Dunn said he heard someone in the SUV shouting expletives at him and the word “cracker,” a derogatory word for white people.
The music was turned back on with a thumping bass. Dunn said when the music was turned back on “I wasn’t going to ask for favors anymore.”
Dunn said the men in the SUV had “menacing expressions” and he asked the teens if they were talking about him. He said he wanted to de-escalate the situation but he saw a teen in the backseat reach down for something which he slammed into the car door. Dunn said it looked as if the barrel of a shotgun was sticking out the window.
One of the teens stepped out of the SUV, Dunn said, and he felt “this was a clear and present danger.” He reached for his pistol in a glove box.
Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, fired nine shots into the car, according to an affidavit. Once his fiancee returned to the car, he drove off out of fear of the SUV returning, he said.
Dunn said he told his fiancee on the drive back to the hotel that he had shot in self-defense.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Dunn said he told his fiancee.
Dunn and Rouer drove back to their hotel without calling police. Dunn said he didn’t call the police because his focus was on the well-being of Rouer, whom he described as in hysterics. The next morning, Dunn said, Rouer insisted they wanted to go home and they drove back to their home in Brevard County, 175 miles (282 kilometers) away. There, Dunn said he contacted a neighbor who is in law enforcement for advice on how to turn himself in to authorities.
During cross-examination, prosecutor John Guy challenged Dunn’s assertion that he had told his fiancee after the shooting that he thought one of the teens had a gun.
“You never told the love of your life that those guys had a gun,” Guy said. “Did you?”
Dunn responded, “You were not there.”
Guy also suggested that Dunn was angry because he was being disrespected by a young black man. Dunn responded, “I was being threatened, not disrespected.”