Jacksonville, FL - On February 12, the prosecution and defense attorneys in the trial of Michael Dunn made closing arguments. Dunn is the racist vigilante who shot and killed 17 year old African American youth Jordan Davis. The jury began deliberations at 5:02 p.m. and met for several hours before agreeing to reconvene on February 13.
Before the jury ended deliberations for the night, they asked to review a key piece of evidence for the defense: surveillance videotape from the Gate gas station. This is where Dunn fired at least eight shots at a Dodge Durango, killing Davis and wounding three other young passengers. The SUV then drove to get away before Dunn could fire again. The defense alleges that Dunn opened fire on the SUV after he was threatened with a gun. There is no evidence that Davis or the other passengers had a weapon.
Over 20 protesters gathered outside of the Duval County Courthouse starting at 10:00 a.m. demanding 'Justice for Jordan Davis'. Carrying signs that read, "Will this be another Trayvon?" and "Thou Shalt Not Kill," the protesters drew a large crowd of people passing by the courthouse. Members from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, and several labor unions in Jacksonville attended the event. Marching around the courthouse, the crowd chanted, "Turn up your music for Jordan Davis," a reference to the loud music coming from Davis' vehicle that Dunn complained about before shooting him.
Everyone outside the courthouse voiced strong concerns for State Attorney Angela Corey's handling of the trial.
According to protesters, Corey deliberately downplayed Dunn's long history of racism and his violently anti-Black views expressed in letters he wrote to friends and family from jail. Rather than additional charges for hate crimes, Corey's office limited it to first-degree murder charges against Dunn. Corey never entered Dunn’s racist letters and rants into evidence for the jury. Many people assembled outside the courthouse fear that Corey's deliberate negligence in the case weakens the
prosecution and opens opportunities for the defense to make bogus arguments to the jury.
Dunn's fiancé, who was in the car with him when he killed Davis, testified that Dunn never mentioned seeing a gun the entire day after the shooting took place. Instead, the couple drove to a bed and breakfast suite in St. Augustine and casually ordered a pizza, just hours after killing Davis and injuring the other passengers. Evidence brought out in the trial shows that Dunn did not mention seeing a gun until police questioned him more than a day after the shooting. This strongly suggests that he lied about the entire story to protect himself.
Dunn wrote letters to family members from prison exposing the racist attitudes that led to Davis' murder. In one letter, he said of African Americans, “The more time I am exposed to these people, the more prejudiced against them I become.” Other letters from Dunn included an open call for genocide, in which he said to his girlfriend, “This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these f---ing idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.” None of this was introduced by Corey's prosecution team into evidence or presented to the jury.
Legal analysts and leaders from Jacksonville's activist community believe the jury will reach a verdict on Thursday, February 13. The trial looks like a horrifying case of deja vu for those outraged at the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is the racist vigilante who murdered Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Protesters say Corey mishandled and botched the prosecution of Zimmerman, including withholding key pieces of evidence from that trial.
Others draw contrast with Corey's prosecution of Marissa Alexander, the 33-year-old African American mother given 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot above her head to fend off her abusive husband. Corey personally prosecuted Alexander's case and pursued the highest possible sentence. The jury deliberated Alexander's case for only 12 minutes before handing down a guilty verdict. An appeals court granted Alexander a re-trial late last year, which is currently scheduled for the summer 2014.
Activists are planning marches, protests, and civil disobedience in the event of a not guilty verdict or a hung jury. People in Jacksonville interested in demanding justice for Jordan Davis are encouraged to come to the courthouse on February 13 at around 10:00 a.m.