SPECIAL REPORT: Breaking down the loud music trial – has justice - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

SPECIAL REPORT: Breaking down the loud music trial – has justice been served?


It's a controversial caseout of Florida: teenager Jordan Davis was gunned down by 45-year-Old MichaelDunn outside a convenience store.

Questions have beenswirling since the verdict was rendered Saturday.

Michael Dunn was foundguilty of four counts, but a mistrial was declared on a first-degree murdercharge.

News Leader 9's JenyneDonaldson sits down with local attorneys to analyze the case.

The "Stand Your Ground"defense has recently garnered a lot of attention. It's been used in a fewrecent high profile cases and in this case dubbed the "loud music"trial.

Attorney Teddy Reese withthe Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice says that law was created withgood intention but is now being used in a way that was not intended.

"They were in a car," Reese said. "So the factthat the statute specifically mentions a car we're applying that initially andit may not be applicable but if it fits within that puzzle piece legally youcan bring that forward."

He says it's all aboutstrategy, but statistics show that more often when there's a white defendantand a black victim, use of deadly force is justified under stand your ground.However, they're not when the opposite is true.

"Their argument was that it was reasonable forhim to behave in the manner that he behaved that night that resulted in a 17-year-old'sdeath," said Katonga Wright, managing partner with the Wright Legal Group. "Andultimately, the jury somewhat agreed with him."

The evidence and the wayit was presented also played a major role in the jury decision.

"A lot of the forensicevidence which was really downplayed in this particular trial," Wright said.  "And in the day and era of CSI, I found thatto be quite surprising."

The attorneys weresurprised that additional charges weren't sought.

"It's a serious thing thathe didn't acknowledge to the police that he was involved in this incident and Ihave a serious problem with it and I think others do too," Wright said 

"Ironically, that's acharge that we did not see," added Reese. "We did not see that charge… failureto report a crime."

There was contradictingtestimony and it was up to the jury to decide what was most reasonable.

"When it comes down to thejury instructions, sometimes they get so convoluted and confusing," Wrightsaid. "It appears to me that the jury just wasn't clear on what they wereallowed to do, once they got back to the jury room."

"One question was, hey Ithink you made an error in the jury instructions, in which he did," Reese said."In which he had the jury thinking that if they couldn't come up with aconclusion on the murder charge one, that the entire case would be re-tried."

In Florida when the juryreaches a verdict on individual counts, those counts stand....but then there'sthe question of race.

"You found an individualguilty for attempted murder of three individuals in the car and not for theperson that actually died from that attempt," Reese said.

"To say that if you'reblack in Florida you can't get justice, I think that would just be anovergeneralization," Wright said.

"Because there are peoplethat believe that justice is justice regardless of your color. And that's whatwe've gotta get to," Reese added.

"Unfortunately, we arejust at a place where those types of stereotypes are being perpetrated,perpetuated," Wright said. "As a mother of teenage sons it highly concerns me."

Reese says our justicesystem works and we have to have faith in it, but as a society we must makesure that morally we're on equal ground.

"In Florida twice you'veseen a situation where a young black male's life was taken by someone not ofthe African American race and it seems that justice wasn't served," Reese said.

"I think there's room thatif there was in fact a weapon or some reasonable conclusion that there was aweapon in that car, I can see where a jury could have a problem convicting himunder those circumstances," Wright said.

In a case full ofcontention, the public rallied on both sides arguing a case that was ultimatelydecided by a jury. The prosecution said they may retry Michael Dunn on thatfirst degree murder charge.

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