Verdict in Florida Again Raises Self-Defense Issue

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -

A verdict in the city of Jacksonville is again raising the issue of self-defense and race in Florida, just seven months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Michael Dunn, a white 47-year-old software developer, could face 60 years in prison following his conviction Saturday on multiple counts of attempted murder for shooting into a carful of teenagers outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012. Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old, was killed in the shooting, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charge against Dunn. A mistrial was declared on that count.

The verdict is a far cry from one delivered in the Zimmerman case, when he was acquitted in July in the shooting death of 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, about 125 miles south of Jacksonville.

Like Zimmerman, Dunn said he felt his life was in danger when he fired the shots. But the verdict suggested the jury struggled to see it that way.

Following an argument over loud music coming from the car that Davis was in, Dunn said he shot at the car with his 9 mm handgun — he said he was afraid and thought he saw a shotgun in the car.

Legal experts say it’s likely that at least one member of the jury believed Dunn’s story — about being scared, pulling a gun in self-defense and firing the first few shots, which killed Davis. After more than 30 hours of deliberations over four days, the jury couldn’t agree on the first-degree murder charge.

Meanwhile, Dunn’s attorney vowed to appeal. “I basically told him to stay strong,” Cory Strolla said Saturday night, “and we’re still going to fight.”