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Defense paints character of 'peacefulness' for Michael Dunn, closing arguments soon

After some four days of State’s testimony, it was time for the defense to take over the witness stand Monday.

In about 2 ½ hours, Defense Attorney Cory Strolla called 11 witnesses, many of which spoke to Michael Dunn’s general state of being or demeanor the day of the shooting.

It began with three people who classified themselves as “close friends”, and had met Dunn  through his father and the “aero-based community” they lived in.

“With Michael Dunn and obviously knowing his father, do you or have you had the ability to know the reputation of Mr. Dunn for his peacefulness,” Strolla asked Randy Berry.

“I’ve always thought he was a gentle man,” Berry responded.

The next witness was a Gate employee who was working the night of the shooting. Strolla had him walk through the location of each of the dumpsters in the vicinity of the gas station and the nearby plaza. There are several, and Strolla is hoping that shows a jury an opportunity for the teens to have dumped a weapon. On cross examination, however, the state demonstrated that none of the dumpsters were easily accessible from where the teens drove to.

Strolla then moved to family members who were with Dunn at his son’s wedding ahead of the shooting, including his son. Christopher Dunn says he had only seen Dunn about three times in the past 15 years, and didn’t have a very good relationship with him, but said they’re trying to mend that.

“Did he appear happy to be there [at the wedding] for you,” Strolla asked.

“Very happy,” Christopher Dunn responded.

Dunn’s ex-wife also described what appeared to be a very calm Michael Dunn who was enjoying a night with family. The state took that relationship, however, and used it to try to demonstrate a potential problem with Dunn’s reason for leaving the county after the shooting.

“Had you received a phone call from Rhonda Rouer or your father, Michael Dunn, letting you know there had been an emergency and the dog had to be taken care of, would you have taken care of their little puppy Charlie,” asked State Attorney Angela Corey?

“Yes ma’am,” Christopher Dunn replied.

On Saturday, Dunn’s fiancée testified they fled Jacksonville to go back to Brevard County because she was convinced they were going to be arrested and wanted to get everything in order, including finding someone to take care of their dog.

Once the jury was dismissed for the day, Judge Russell Healey kept Corey and Strolla in the courtroom to talk about jury instructions and the timeline moving forward.

Strolla confirmed that he only has one or two witnesses left to call for his defense. One of the witnesses is an expert on “acute stress reaction” that has not been accepted by the state yet. Attorneys are debating through this evening and early tomorrow whether that testimony will be admitted.

Strolla has not specifically said who the other potential witness could be. Healey made it clear during this post-trial discussion that there was still a lot to be done to prove Dunn was using justifiable deadly force- so it is possible Dunn himself will  take the stand. Court resumes Tuesday at 9 AM and WOKV will continue to bring you the latest.

If the testimony concludes by around 1PM, Healey plans to allow a lunch break, followed by closing arguments. Corey expects to need 2 ½ hours for closing. Strolla said he will likely need 1 ½.

If that schedule holds true, Healey says he will send the jury home after closings and then bring them back Wednesday morning to start deliberations. Jurors will be allowed to consider lesser included charges, although which have yet to be finalized.

WOKV is at the courthouse continuing to follow the latest developments. You can get instant update on Twitter (@NewsAndNom and @WOKVNews). Also stay with WOKV for special coverage on-air. We will have anchored coverage and carry the verdict live.

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