After 28 hours of deliberations, the jury in the Michael Dunn trial says it has reached verdict on four of the five counts against Dunn, but is unable to reach a unanimous decision on count one of first-degree murder or any of the lesser included charges.
The judge was giving the jury the Allen charge, which urges them to come up with a verdict and gives them additional time to deliberate.
Dunn is charged with one count of first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree attempted murder, and one count of firing into an occupied vehicle. He claimed self-defense in the Nov. 23, 2012, Black Friday shooting, saying he saw what appeared to be the barrel of a shotgun after being threatened by 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
Less than an hour after the jury began its deliberations Saturday morning, the jurors sent out three questions:
- Is the defense of self-defense separate for each person in each count? Judge Russell Healey answered "Yes."
- Are we determining if deadly force is justified against each person in each count? Judge: "Yes."
- If we determine deadly force is justified against one person, is it justified against the others. Judge: "No. Self-defense and justifiable use of deadly force applies separately to each count."
Dunn and defense attorney Cory Strolla objected to the way the judge answered the last count, but that the judge overruled and gave that instruction to the jury and it was sent back into deliberations just after 10 a.m.
The 12 sequestered jurors returned to the courthouse just after 9 a.m. Saturday to begin its 22nd hour discussing whether Dunn is guilty of five different charges for firing 10 shots into an SUV full of teenagers on Nov. 23, 2012, causing the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
Healey said they jury requested several boxes of evidence in the jury room removed so they would have more room to spread out. The jury has asked 10 questions since it began deliberating Wednesday afternoon.
The jury's questions are good ones, according to legal analysts, but they also show that there may be so many charges and counts against Dunn that it's hard for the jurors to reach a unanimous decision.
"I think everything is consistent with them wanting to get it right, but it does speak to a little bit of confusion," analyst Randy Reep said. "I'm legal to defend myself against Jordan Davis, but popping those other bullets into the car would be attempted for people who it wasn't justified to. That is the distinction I think that they're struggling with there."
Davis' parents arrived early Saturday, saying they were hopeful for a favorable verdict. The victim's father, Ron Davis, again thanked everyone for the support, adding they hope they have something else to celebrate on Sunday -- which would have been Jordan's 19th birthday.
With people are anticipating a conclusion, the number of people waiting on the steps of the courthouse grew on Saturday. There were dozens of people with sings, some calling for Justice for Jordan and others in support of Dunn.
"I'm here waiting just like the rest of the country," said U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown. " It's good that the jury is deliberating and taking their time and the instructions are very complicated. The issue is about Jordan and whether or not we can get justice for him, so failure is not an option."
Long day Friday
Judge Healey called off nearly 10 hours of deliberations Friday when the jury sent a note about 7 p.m. they had "hit a wall."
"This is one admirable group that's clearly taking this as seriously as they should," Judge Russell Healey told the courtroom as he released the jury Friday night. He urged the seven women and five men to get some "good rest" before resuming deliberations Saturday morning.
That came two hours after the jury asked the judge a question about reaching a verdict. The jury asked if they were allowed to reach a verdict on some of the five counts against Dunn, but not on others.
Judge Healey answered yes, that any count they cannot reach a unanimous verdict on could be declared a mistrial, and it would be up to the state if it wanted to re-file the charge and hold a second trial.
"It sounds like they're close, so we'll just hope for the best and be in recess until we hear more from the jurors," Healey said just after 5 p.m. Friday.
Dinner was ordered in and the jury kept at it two more hours before saying they had to break for the night.
Healey said he had researched the legal precedent for deliberations on weekends, and it appears the jury would be asked continue trying to reach a verdict both Saturday and Sunday, if necessary.