Florida’s “stand your ground” law is receiving attention again.
Michael Dunn was charged with first-degree murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis after a dispute over loud music. The trial date and jury selection are scheduled today, according to The Florida Times-Union.
This will be the first high-profile trial held at the new Duval County Courthouse, according to The Florida Times-Union.
The altercation occurred after Dunn observed Davis and his friends playing loud music from their car in the Jacksonville Gate convenience store parking lot. During an argument, Dunn told detectives, he saw a shotgun and opened fire on Davis in self-defense.
No weapons were found in the teen’s car during the investigation after the incident.
Bob Dekle, a University of Florida law professor, gave some information about Dunn’s defense.
“The question is not necessarily was there a shotgun in the car, as much as is there some reason for believing he saw or thought he saw a shotgun,” Dekle said. “Was the description sufficient to put him in fear of death or great bodily harm?”
Shawn Arnold, the managing partner of Arnold Law Firm in Jacksonville, explained that if Dunn is found guilty of first-degree murder, then he would be convicted of felony and would most likely receive a life sentence.
However, for a death sentence, the state would have to file a notice of intent to seek death penalty, he said.
Florida has seen multiple “stand your ground” cases, including the Martin-Zimmerman case. Dekle referred to “stand your ground” as a buzzword and explained why the general self-defense claim could strengthen Dunn’s case.
“Under the old law (of self-defense) a person has a duty to retreat unless retreating is useless. Most people cannot outrun a bullet,” Dekle said. “Even though they have a theoretical duty to retreat under the circumstances, it would be reasonable to not turn your back and run because you might get shot in the back.”
The jury ultimately will decide whether Dunn’s claim of seeing a shotgun in the car was valid enough to open fire on Davis.