Florida teens describe death of friend in loud music shooting trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 26, 2014 6:12 PM

By Susan Cooper Eastman

JACKSONVILLE Fla. (Reuters) - Three friends of a slain Florida teenager testified on Friday that they did not have a gun and posed no threat when a man opened fire on them in November 2012 because he was upset over loud rap music they were playing at a gas station.

Michael Dunn, 47, a white software engineer, is being retried in the racially-charged case for first degree murder in the death of Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old.

Dunn fired 10 rounds at an SUV carrying Davis and his three friends at a Jacksonville gas station. Prosecutors say Dunn over-reacted after Davis insulted him for asking to turn the music down.

In an earlier trial in February, a jury could not reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charge but convicted Dunn on three lesser counts of attempted murder for firing at the three teens who survived in the vehicle.

Dunn could face 60 years in jail for the February convictions. Sentencing has been postponed until after his retrial on the outstanding charge.

Dunn's lawyers say he acted in self-defense because of a "perceived threat" that his life was in danger. The case has drawn comparisons to that of another Florida man, George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder last year in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old.

One by one, Davis's three friends told the court there was no gun in their car and that Davis never opened the door to confront Dunn.

They described driving away after the shooting, barely 300 feet, before quickly returning to the gas station when they realized Davis was hit. Police say no weapon was found in the teen's SUV, although the defense has said the teens could have discarded it.

Prosecutor John Guy asked one of the teens, Tommie Stormes, why they left the gas station. "To get away from danger," he said.

Dunn's lawyer Waffa Hanania asked the teens how much Davis' car window was open, halfway down or only three inches. In the previous trial Dunn said he saw what he thought was the barrel of a shotgun in the car window.

The Jacksonville jury of 10 whites and two blacks is being sequestered throughout the week-long trial.

(Writing by David Adams; Editing by Grant McCool)