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Updated: 6:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 | Posted: 8:52 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7, 2014

Why go back to Gate? Teens in car with Jordan Davis speak for the first time

Leland Brunson
Leland Brunson

By Stephanie Brown

Jacksonville, FL —

It’s the first time we’re hearing from the teens in the car with Jordan Davis the night he was shot and killed.

Tevin Thompson, the front side passenger, took the stand first Friday afternoon, following a grouping of law enforcement and first responders interviewed through the morning.  Led by Assistant State Attorney John Guy, Thompson talked through the day leading up to the shooting, including meeting up with Davis, Leland Brunson, and Tommie Stornes and going to the Town Center to pick up girls. Thompson says they stopped at the Gate to get some gum on the way to the Avenues, but only Stornes got out. The rest of them stayed in the car listening to music.

“It was pretty loud sir,” Thompson told Guy.

At one point, Thompson says a man he identified as Michael Dunn pulled up next to them and asked them to lower the music.

“Turn the music down, I can’t hear myself think,” Thompson recalls Dunn saying.

Thompson did, but then Davis got “enraged” and cursed at Dunn, turning the volume back up. Thompson says he pushed Davis’ window up almost to the top in an effort to stop things from escalating, but he says Davis and Dunn continued to “have words”, although Davis never made a threat.

While being cross examined by Defense Attorney Cory Strolla, however, Thompson admitted that he couldn’t hear everything that was being said because of the volume of the music. He also insisted Davis never tried to get out of the car, although that led Strolla to question whether Thompson has “eyes in the back of your head” because Davis was sitting immediately behind him.

Leland Brunson, who was sitting next to Davis, told Guy that Davis did reach for the door handle, but did not try to get out of the car.

When Stornes returned to the car is when Thompson says he first saw the gun. Stornes told the jury Thompson and Brunson both said they needed to go, but didn’t explicitly say anything about a gun at that point.

Thompson says he then heard the shots, which he says continued even as Stornes was driving away.

“I tried to pull him [Davis] down, but when I pulled him down he just fell in to my lap,” Brunson said.

They pulled in to a nearby parking lot.

“Tommie began to call our names. Me and Leland replied, but Jordan didn’t,” Thompson said.

The teens all describe Davis as “gasping for air” in the back seat of the truck and not talking or moving. Thompson says he and Stornes got out of the car to check on everything, although Stornes didn’t remember seeing Thompson get out, saying instead he was in a panic. When they saw Davis’ condition they decided to go back to the gas station.

“My first instinct was to get to the brightest place, the place where I know there’s a person that can maybe help us,” Stornes said.

Strolla questioned why they didn’t go for help in one of the nearby stores. Stornes said the plaza was less busy than the gas station.  Thompson says as soon as they got there, he called 911. He insisted the only phone calls he made were to let loved ones know what had happened, and not to come pick up a gun or weapon which Strolla says Dunn thought he saw.

Strolla is trying to show opportunity for the teens to have dumped any potential weapon while in that plaza parking lot, evident in one exchange he had with Brunson.

“You obviously miss your friend, don’t you,” Strolla asked.

“Yes,” Brunson replied.

“You don’t want to see your friend’s memory go in vain, do you?”

“No.”

Guy re-directed to Brunson with a similar exchange.

“Do you love Jordan Davis,” Guy asked.

“Yes,” Brunson responded.

“Are you lying for Jordan Davis?”

“No.”

Strolla nonetheless established that neither of the state’s witnesses who were in the plaza when the car drove up could say they had maintained visual contact of the teen’s SUV the entire time. Neither of the two witnesses believed they saw anything taken from the vehicle.

During opening statements, the defense announced its intent to call Dunn’s girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, who was in the gas station as the shooting occurred. Another high profile witness expected to be questioned is Davis’ father, Ron. He gained a special exception from the judge allowing him to be in the courtroom for the ongoing testimony despite the fact he will be called.

Several other witnesses have testified so far, including employees in the Gate gas station and those who were in the immediate area and witnessed some part of the evening.

It’s still unclear whether Dunn himself plans to testify.

With still another week allotted for this trial, it’s not clear when each of these witnesses is expected to take the stand.

Friday’s session is done, but the sequestered jury requested to keep proceedings moving through Saturday and Sunday.  Judge Russell Healey told them he will not hold trial on Sunday, but there will be more testimony Saturday for a full day, from 9am-5pm. You can get instant updates from the ongoing testimony by following on Twitter (@WOKVNews and @NewsAndNom).

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