New 'Stand Your Ground' trial in Florida

Feb. 3, 2014 at 2:00 AM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A Florida prosecutor in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case must expect to win a new "Stand Your Ground" trial since she'll try it herself, a lawyer said.

Angela Corey, the state attorney who charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder in Martin's shooting death but then assigned others to lead the prosecution, may be seeking to rehabilitate her image after the Zimmerman acquittal because she believes this time the prosecution will win, Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer Janet Johnson, a legal commentator during the Zimmerman trial, told the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.

"The prosecution has a very strong case," Johnson said. "It's a good move for Corey to get the conviction herself and get the credit for it."

But if Corey loses, or if a mistrial is declared or the case is overturned on appeal, her "reputation will be damaged," Florida Coastal School of Law professor Rod Sullivan told the newspaper.

The case, whose jury selection was to start Monday, involves Michael Dunn, 47 and white, charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting death of Jordan Davis, who was 17 and black, after an argument over his loud "thug music."

Dunn faces life without parole if convicted.

Dunn and his fiancee were heading home from his son's wedding when they stopped at a Jacksonville convenience store next to a sport utility vehicle Davis was sitting in with three friends.

Dunn complained to the teenagers about their music and told them to turn it down, police said. One of the friends turned it down, but then Davis turned it back up.

An argument began and Davis cursed Dunn, police said.

"You can't talk to me like that," a person walking out of the convenience story said he heard Dunn say.

Dunn said he saw a gun in the SUV and felt threatened.

Davis yelled: "You're DEAD [expletive]! This [expletive] is going down NOW," Dunn told WJXX-TV, Jacksonville, in an October 2013 letter.

"I was convinced that the loss of my life was imminent," Dunn's letter continued. "I had no choice but to defend myself."

He fired multiple shots at the Durango, killing Davis, his arrest report says.

Dunn had a concealed weapons permit and had a 9mm handgun in his glove compartment.

The teens quickly sped away to the adjacent parking lot and then returned about 90 seconds later, witnesses told police.

Dunn and his fiancee fled and drove home to Satellite Beach, Fla., near the Kennedy Space Center.

Police arrested him the next day, using his license plate number to track him down.

Dunn faces three additional counts of attempted murder of the friends, Leland Brunson, Tommie Stornes and Tevin Thompson, who were in the Durango with Davis when Dunn opened fire on them.

The surviving teens said they never had a gun, and police never found one in the Durango or elsewhere.

Dunn attorney Cory Strolla said he planned to argue the friends hid a gun when they briefly left the convenience store.

He told the Times-Union witnesses reported seeing two men jump out of the SUV after it drove into an adjacent parking lot, and appeared to be trying to hide something.

"We know that vehicle drove away and there are about a dozen dumpsters in that area," Strolla told the newspaper in an email.

Mark O'Mara, who represented Zimmerman in his murder trial, said Strolla should be careful not to press the teenagers too hard on the witness stand.

"I would probably go light on those teenagers if I was cross-examining them," he told the Times-Union. "You have to be really careful not to make them more sympathetic."

O'Mara said the entire case hinged on whether the teens had a gun in the Durango.

"Dunn said he saw a gun," O'Mara said. "If the jury believes there was a chance to get rid of it, that's enough for an acquittal."

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