The Herald Bulletin

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March 5, 2014

Primus Mootry: Juror 8 -- perspectives on madness and murder in Florida

In November of 2012, four teenaged black boys from Georgia were visiting relatives in Jacksonville, Fla. Laughing and talking as super bass rap music thumped from powerful speakers in their vehicle, the carefree boys stopped at a gas station convenience store to buy chewing gum and cigarettes. While the driver went in to make the purchase, a white man named Michael Dunn and his girlfriend drove up and parked next to their music-rocking SUV.

The 45-year-old Dunn, a software developer, was also a visitor in Jacksonville. He and his girlfriend were there for a wedding. As Dunn is supposed to have told his girlfriend, “I hate that rap crap.” He also referred to the boys as thugs. He told the boy in the passenger seat to turn the sound down. Although the boy did as he was told, another passenger, 17-year- old Jordan Davis, defiantly turned it back up. Davis and Dunn then began a heated exchange of words.

Somewhere in that heated exchange, with his girlfriend having returned to the car, Dunn, a licensed gun owner, grabbed the pistol he carried in his glove compartment. He opened fire on young Davis with a barrage of bullets that struck him in the lungs, legs and heart. As the SUV carrying the dying Davis backed up, Dunn opened his car door and continued firing. He would later testify that he feared for his and his girlfriend’s lives, and that one of the boys had leveled a shotgun at them. (No gun, however, was ever found in the boys’ vehicle.)

Dodging gunfire, the boy driving the SUV sped out of the line of fire and parked in a nearby lot. No one else was injured but, by then, Jordan Davis was gasping away the last breaths of life. It was reported that, by then, Dunn had driven away. He and his girlfriend went back to their hotel and ordered a pizza. He did not immediately call police to report the tragic incident. Instead, he waited until he returned to his Brevard County home, called a neighbor who was in law enforcement and calmly surrendered to local police.

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