CNN (Feb. 11, 2014) — Michael Dunn concedes it doesn’t make sense he never called police after fatally shooting a teenager at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station, but said Tuesday he wasn’t in a rational state of mind then — not immediately after the killing, not hours later, not the next day when police questioned him.
“You’re right. It sounds crazy. … I can just tell you I didn’t do it,” Dunn testified. “It makes sense that I should have. We didn’t. I can’t tell you why.”
He and girlfriend Rhonda Rouer were having an “out-of-body experience trying to process what was happening” following the shooting. After learning almost six hours later that he had killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis, he became “crazy with grief,” vomiting and experiencing stomach problems for about four hours before taking a nap, he said.
Dunn, 47, took the stand on day eight of his trial on murder and attempted murder charges stemming from a November 2012 incident in which he opened fire on an SUV full of teenagers following an altercation over loud music.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, saying he fired in self-defense after Davis threatened him with a gun.
“My intent was to stop the attack, not necessarily end a life,” he testified. “It just worked out that way.”
Did Jordan have a shotgun?
Police and prosecutors have said the teens were unarmed, and while Rouer testified that Dunn didn’t mention seeing a gun, Dunn told the court that she was mistaken and that he told her “at least one time.”
Assistant State Attorney John Guy showed Dunn a letter he wrote to Rouer from jail 12 days after the shooting, in which he mentions that Rouer told prosecutors Dunn never told her he saw Jordan brandish a gun.
“He asked what I had told you, and I then realized that we hadn’t really discussed what happened as we were more concerned with whether or not anyone was hurt,” Dunn wrote in the December 5, 2012, letter. “Let me assure you … there was a weapon.”
Dunn was adamant during his testimony that he saw a gun, saying it repeatedly, and when Guy asked why he told police the day after the shooting that it might have been a stick, Dunn said he told police that only because he thought they were “competent” when they claimed the teens were not armed.
Defense attorney Cory Strolla has hammered police witnesses over their handling of the crime scene, saying they failed to properly search the bushes and Dumpsters for any weapons the teens may have ditched.
After firing three volleys of 10 bullets, prompting the teens to flee the gas station parking lot, Dunn and Rouer left, too. They weren’t fleeing because Dunn felt he’d committed a crime, he testified, but because they needed to get to a bed-and-breakfast in St. Augustine so their 7-month-old French bulldog, Charlie, could “go potty.”
“We might be in trouble with the local gangsters, but I didn’t do anything wrong,” Dunn said, explaining his thought process leading to his decision to leave the well-lit parking lot where numerous witnesses had seen the altercation and aftermath.
It began with ‘thumping’ bass
The couple was staying at the bed-and-breakfast because it was pet-friendly and close to Dunn’s son’s wedding in Jacksonville, he said. They stopped at the gas station after leaving the wedding because Rouer wanted some white wine and chips, Dunn said.
That’s when he heard heavy bass “thumping” from a red Dodge Durango parked next to him. Rouer testified previously that Dunn told her he hated “that thug music,” which Dunn contested during his testimony. He said he wouldn’t have used such terminology — he said he prefers the term “rap crap” — though he has labeled his fellow inmates “thugs” in jailhouse letters.
Asked if the music made him angry, he said, it’s “not my style, but when I was a kid, my parents didn’t like rock ‘n’ roll.” Asked if the music’s volume upset him, he said, “My eardrum was vibrating. It wasn’t loud; it was obnoxious.”
Dunn painted himself as perfectly collected for most of the altercation, saying he was “not mad at all” with the teens and politely asked them to turn down their “ridiculously loud” music. He thanked them when they obliged, but then Davis grew irate, he said.
He heard a flurry of profanity — “f*** him, f*** that” — and while Dunn felt it was “mean-spirited,” he didn’t roll down his window, he said. He had “no reaction at all,” he testified.
The music came back on, but not as loud, he said, but “I wasn’t going to ask them for any more favors.” He heard more angry words from Davis, who Dunn claimed called him a “cracker” loudly enough for Dunn to hear over the bass coming from the stereo.
He continued looking forward, hoping Rouer would return to the car, he said, but the situation escalated with Davis saying, “I should kill that motherf***er.”
“I’m flabbergasted. I must not be hearing this right,” he said, recalling how he turned toward the Durango and saw “two guys with menacing expressions” looking at him. He rolled down his window and asked calmly if the teens were talking about him, he said, explaining that he was not taunting the teens so much as ascertaining about whom they were speaking.
“I wanted to know if I was that m-f’er,” he said, using an abbreviated version of the profanity he had spoken earlier. “I wanted to make it clear that I had said, ‘Thank you.’ I didn’t mean any disrespect.”