Jacksonville, FL - She was so emotional that Judge Russell Healey actually brought her in to the courtroom before her testimony was underway to help her get comfortable with what was going to happen.
With tissues in hand, Michael Dunn’s fiancée Rhonda Rouer took the stand today as a state’s witness.
She started by telling Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson that they had a good day that Friday at Dunn’s son’s wedding in Orange Park. Despite seeing his ex-wife and a lot of his former relatives, she says Dunn was calm and everything was amicable, including a champagne toast that Rouer wasn’t sure Dunn participated in. She says he did have three to four rum and cokes, but didn’t seem impaired. She says they only left the reception early to take care of their seven-month-old puppy, who was at the hotel.
When Wolfson asked Rouer where they went after the wedding reception, she took a deep breath before replying “the Gate gas station.” Rouer started crying again when she said it was her idea to go in order to get a bottle of wine.
“Did the defendant talk say anything about the music when he parked the car next to the red car,” Wolfson asked.
“Yes,” Rouer responded.
“And what did the defendant say?”
“I hate that thug music.”
“And what was your response?”
“Yes, I know,” Rouer said.
She picked up the wine and a bag of potato chips, but says as she was walking to the register, she heard “pop, pop, pop.” Soon after, she said she heard the same thing again. At that point, she says the cashier started saying there was a man with a gun.
“I tried to reassure her that if she was talking about Michael, that if he was the one that had a gun, that she didn’t have to worry about it,” Rouer told Defense Attorney Corey Strolla on cross examination.
“It’s a good guy with a gun,” Strolla followed.
“And that he’s going to protect you.”
Still not knowing what exactly was happening, Rouer says she went to the door and hesitated, even when Dunn told her to get in the car. She says she started moving again when he said it more “urgently”. Rouer said Dunn was backing the car up before she even had the chance to put her seatbelt on, and that he drove “quickly” back to the hotel.
When they got back, Rouer says she got changed and then waited in a lobby area by the elevators. She told Wolfson she figured the police would be there for them soon, so she was just waiting. In the meantime, Dunn took the dog outside, although Rouer couldn’t say for how long.
“That night seemed like forever,” she said.
She told Strolla she was in an even more emotional and panicked state than she was on the podium and her stomach hurt. She says Dunn ordered a pizza because he thought it would help for her to eat something. They both also had a run and coke she described as stronger than what they had at the bar. She fell asleep while he was still awake.
Wolfson then walked her through the next morning. Rouer says she woke up around 7 AM and the tv was on with the news playing. It was at that time Rouer says she first learned a teenager had died in the shooting.
“I just said ‘Mike, Mike, Mike’ and I turned around and he was standing there,” she told Strolla.
Rouer said she feared they were going to be immediately arrested because shots had been fired and someone died. Because of that, she wanted to go back to where they lived in Brevard County and get some things in order. She says it took about 2 ½ hours to drive home, and they barely spoke the entire drive.
Once they got back, Rouer says she got a phone call on her cell from a 904 (Jacksonville area code) number. She gave it to Dunn, thinking it was his son calling because they were supposed to have met up in St. Augustine. It was actually the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and Rouer says when Dunn hung up the phone he went to their neighbor’s house, where he was soon located by deputies.
A Brevard County deputy testified today that Dunn made no attempt to flee and complied with all their orders to him when they took him in to custody. Rouer also cooperated with police when she was questioned.
On Friday, WOKV brought you full coverage of how each teen in the car with Jordan Davis described the night he died. You can see that article attached to the left.
Rouer is the 24th witness the state has called in 2 ½ days of testimony. While the sequestered jury requested to hold trial on Sunday, the Judge denied that. Court will resume Monday morning at 9 AM. WOKV will continue to coverage this trial in full. Get instant updates on Twitter (@NewsAndNom and @WOKVNews).