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'Thorough' review of evidence leads to questions on justifiable deadly force

Before jurors even stepped foot back in the Duval County Courthouse Saturday morning, they had been working more than 20 hours over three days to determine a verdict for Michael Dunn.

The panel was noticeably tired when they called it an early night Friday, and apparently that lagged in to this morning as well. The sequestered jurors arrived at the courthouse a few minutes after 9AM and immediate began deliberations.

The Judge opened those deliberations letting the court know the jurors wanted the large boxes of evidence in their room to be removed. The deliberation room is roughly the size of a small conference room, and the panel said it was too crowded. They further told the judge they had done a “thorough” review of the evidence and felt it was not necessarily to have it immediately available any more. They can still request to have any piece of evidence brought back to them.

Just about a half hour later, the first question came from the jury room which could give more insight in to the ongoing debate. It’s a roughly three part question which reads first “Is the defense of self-defense separate for each person in each count?” Second, “Are we determining is deadly force is justified against each person in each count?” Third “If we determine deadly force is justified against one person, is it justified against the others?”

To answer the first two questions, Judge Russell Healey simply replied “Yes.” How to word the answer to the third question became an issue, however, between the state and defense. Defense Attorney Cory Strolla wanted Healey to read a portion of the jury instructions again which dealt with the justifiable use of deadly force. Dunn himself also objected to self-defense being considered separately for each charge, because in his opinion they were all intertwined. Ultimately, Healey overruled and instructed the jury as simply as he could.

“No, self-defense and justifiable use of deadly force applies separately to each count,” he says.

Today’s deliberations kick off on the heels of the jury questioning a partial verdict late Friday. They asked Judge Russell Healey whether they could not reach a verdict on one count, but reach a verdict on others. Healey told them that is allowed. You can see the full legal breakdown for what that could mean for Dunn attached to the left.

Dunn is charged with one count of First Degree Murder, three counts of Attempted First Degree Murder, and one count of shooting/throwing a deadly missile. He told the jury he feared for his life when he shot Jordan Davis, killing him. After asking someone in the car with Davis to turn down their music, the teen became angry and cursed at Dunn.  Prosecutors say it ended at disrespect, but Dunn believed Davis was armed with a shotgun and getting out of the back seat of the SUV next to Dunn’s to kill him.  Dunn then fired ten rounds at the SUV, which has three other teens inside.

The jury is allowed to consider the lesser included charges of Second Degree and Manslaughter by Act. Dunn faces life in prison if convicted, but prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty.

This is a developing story that will be updated through today.

I am at the courthouse until a verdict is reached. Stay with WOKV on Twitter for instant updates @NewsAndNom and @WOKVNews). You can also be the first to know when a verdict is reached by subscribing to our alerts by testing “ALERT” to 70123.

WOKV is updating you every hour on-air.  We will also bring you live anchored coverage of the verdict when it’s reached on 104.5FM/AM690.

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