'Loud music' trial: Juror No. 4 says deliberations were heated(Read article summary)
The first juror to speak publicly about the Dunn-Davis trial said that she believes that Michael Dunn got away with murder. The slain teen's parents say that Florida's 'stand your ground' law is to blame and that 'God is the ultimate justice.'
The Florida Times-Union/AP
A juror in the Michael Dunn murder trial has offered the first glimpse into the more than 30 hours of deliberations that found Mr. Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder after firing 10 shots into an SUV during a dispute over loud music but that failed to produce a verdict on the charge of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Jordan Davis, a teenager.
The Florida jury was in disagreement about the most serious charge of first-degree murder from the moment the jurors entered deliberations, Juror No. 4, who has asked to be identified solely by her first name, Valerie, told ABC's "Nightline" Tuesday night.
While Valerie said she believes that Dunn got away with murder, three of the 12 jurors remained unconvinced after four days of heated debate.
Asked what she would like to say to Jordan's parents, she replied: “I’m sorry, of course. Nothing will bring back their son. I hope that they feel that we didn’t do them a disservice.”
ABC re-aired the interview during "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning, as Lucia McBath and Ronald Davis, parents of the slain teen, watched in the studio.
“We believe that they did everything they could to come to what they believe was the most just decision,” Ms. McBath told "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts. “We do now know that they were torn, but they’ve done the best that they can with the tools that they had at the time.”
The parents’ poise after the verdict and in subsequent interviews has shocked some onlookers, but both say they have found consolation in their faith.
“People don’t realize that the justice in the court system is not the ultimate justice,” Mr. Davis said. “God is the ultimate justice.”
Davis suggested that the true injustice did not lie with the jury but with the law.
“In Florida, you have the 'stand your ground' instruction,” Davis said. “That confuses juries. These people are torn because of the jury instruction, I believe, and not the case.”
While the defense did not evoke Florida's stand-your-ground law, it did instruct jurors to pay close attention to Page No. 25 of the juror instructions, which stated, “The use of deadly force is justifiable if Michael Dunn reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or bodily harm.”
Valerie confirmed that that language played a major role in jury deliberations, which at times included screaming and profanities. In her mind, the fact that Dunn continued shooting after the teens had pulled away in the SUV negated the validity of the claim of self-defense, she said.
Both Davis and McBath have vowed to work to revise gun laws.
“Justice for Jordan will be ultimately really when we change the laws, because that will be not just for Jordan and justice for Trayvon, and for all the children of Sandy Hook, and justice for Aurora, [Colo.], and justice for Virginia Tech and the [Washington] Navy Yard, it will be justice for everyone that has suffered because of these laws and continues to suffer,” McBath said.
While much of the public scrutiny of the case has revolved around the race of the victim and perpetrator (Davis was black and Dunn is white), Valerie said race was not the focus of the jury’s discussion.
However, the family attorney suggested that race is always an undercurrent in such cases, and typically, “the white businessman gets the benefit of the doubt.” While he felt that prosecutors presented the case well, he wished that they had included a more rounded picture of Davis to help counter inherent racial biases.