Jacksonville, FL - Jurors appear to be edging closer to reaching a verdict, but it may not be complete.
After beginning their day at 9 AM, jurors had not posed a single question to the court until just before 5 PM. Their two part question first asked whether they were allowed to take a 30 minute break, which Judge Russell Healey granted. The second part was much more telling.
“Is it possible to not reach a verdict on one count and reach a verdict on other counts,” Healey read form the paper submitted by the jury.
That is allowed.
Michael Dunn is charged with one count of First Degree Murder, three counts of Attempted First Degree Murder, and one count of firing a deadly missile.
WOKV's Legal Analyst Mark Rubin says, while it's impossible to interpret exactly what's going on in the jury room without being a juror, this question leads us to believe a few scenarios are possible. Because the question specifically asks whether the jury can not reach a verdict on one count, Rubin says that makes it likely the murder charge is causing the deadlock, and some verdict has been agreed upon for the attempted murder and deadly missile charges.
At debate with the murder charge could still be the self defense aspect, if some of the jurors believed Jordan Davis was posing an imminent threat to Dunn's life. Even if all agree self-defense was not at play, however, Rubin says there could be a disagreement which of the three possible options for a murder conviction could be at play.
The question also gives us some insight in to when we could see a verdict come down. Before declaring a mistrial on the charge the jury may be deadlocked on, Healey will task the jurors once again to resume deliberations with an open mind to try to get a unanimous verdict. He could require deliberations to be another hour, day, or more at his discretion. In another question to Healey following their lunch break, jurors said they had “hit a wall” and asked to convene for the evening. That was granted right around 7 PM. Deliberations will resume at 9 AM.
If there is a mistrial declared for one charge, the verdict for the four remaining charges would still stand and be on the record. If Dunn is found “guilty” on four counts and there is a mistrial on the other, he would still face the penalties affiliated with those convictions. If he is found “not guilty” of four counts and there is a mistrial on the other, he would still remain in jail pending a judge’s decision on whether to grant him bond, according to Rubin. That would last until the State decides whether to re-try the one count. Rubin says any sentencing would likely be held off until all charges were decided on.
WOKV will remain on verdict watch until this decision is handed down. I am going to be at the courthouse Saturday morning as soon as deliberations resume. We will bring you live anchored coverage as soon as the verdict is reached on 104.5FM/AM690. You can also get instant updates on Twitter (@NewsAndNom and @WOKVNews).