By Susan Cooper Eastman JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - The parents of Jordan Davis, a Florida teenager who was killed by a middle-aged man in a gas station dispute over loud rap music, plan to campaign to reform the state's self-defense law that they blame for their son's death. "I expect Jordan would expect us to do what we are doing. To be a champion, not just for him, but for everyone," the teen's mother, Lucia McBath, told Reuters on Monday. Michael Dunn, a white, 47-year-old software engineer, was convicted on February 15 on three counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a car of black teenagers during an argument in November 2012 in the parking lot of a Jacksonville gas station. But the jury could not reach a verdict on a murder charge related to Davis' death. Dunn faces a minimum sentence of 60 years in prison and prosecutors say they plan to retry him on the murder charge. Dunn testified that he feared for his life, drawing comparisons to the trial of George Zimmerman, the former central Florida neighborhood watchman who was acquitted last year of murder after saying he shot a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in self-defense. The parents of Davis and Martin plan to attend a rally protesting the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law in Tallahassee after the Florida legislative session opens on March 10. They will also be joined by Nicole Oulson, widow of Chad Oulson, a Land O' Lakes man who was shot and killed by a retired Tampa policeman in a movie theater in January after a confrontation over texting. The stand-your-ground law allows a person who "reasonably believes" they are in imminent fear of serious bodily injury to use deadly force to defend themselves, even if, despite their belief, no real threat exists. The law was adopted in Florida in 2005 and has been copied in more than 20 states since then. Civil rights groups and a handful of state legislators are urging a legal review of Florida's self-defense statute, saying it has created a license to kill for gun owners who hate or fear young black men. But gun rights activists, backed by a Republican-controlled legislature, have resisted all efforts to undo the law. Davis' parents said the law is too subjective, and allows gun owners to shoot on the slightest fear, even if only imaginary. "What is reasonable to you? How gray is that?" said Jordan's father, Ron Davis, a retired Delta employee. "What was reasonable to Michael Dunn was certainly not reasonable to Jordan. He didn't reason that he was going to be shot and killed for what he said." Dunn testified that he thought he saw Davis pick up a shotgun in the car after the teen mouthed off a barrage of expletives, but investigators said no weapon was found. The law "leaves it completely open to people to interpret what that means, and laws should be concrete and definitive," added McBath, the mother of the teen slain over loud music. McBath and Davis are divorced and shared custody of their son, though the boy lived with his father in Jacksonville for the last 18 months of his life. They spoke to Reuters in a joint interview at the office of their lawyer in Jacksonville. McBath said her son always wanted to play all music loud. "He'd say, 'We aren't hurting anybody,'" she recalled ruefully. "'Let the music flow.'" After the death of her son, McBath, a Delta airlines flight attendant who lives in Atlanta, became a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a non-profit group created in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012. "She is very involved in our chapter in Georgia. She's incredibly eloquent," said Shannon Watts, the group's founder. "She truly believes this happened for a reason. She believes it's her calling and what she's going to dedicate her life to," she added. Taking on a political role felt natural after her son's death, she said. Her father Lucien Holman was the president of the Illinois branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and on the executive board of the national organization for years. "I never expected that I would use those roots in this form and for this reason, but it is a very natural course for me," she said. (Writing by David Adams; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
By Susan Cooper Eastman JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - A north Florida jury ended a second day of deliberations without reaching a verdict on Thursday in the trial of a middle-aged man who shot and killed a black teenager in an argument over rap music blaring from the youth's car. Defense attorneys have said Michael Dunn, 47, who is white, acted in self-defense when he fired 10 rounds at an SUV carrying four teens, killing Jordan Davis, 17, while it was parked in a Jacksonville gas station. The jury asked to review security camera video from inside the gas station that captures the reaction of the clerks to the sound of the gunfire, as well as Dunn's fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, who had gone into the store to buy wine. The trial has drawn international attention because of racial overtones and claims of self-defense. Dunn is charged with first-degree murder and three charges of attempted murder in the November 2012 shooting. The judge denied a jury request to see the courtroom foam dummy used to demonstrate the trajectory of the three bullets that struck Davis, telling them to review the court transcript instead. Davis was out on the town with friends when the argument broke out. Prosecutors said Davis used foul language when confronting Dunn, but that Davis was unarmed and never posed a physical threat. "Jordan Davis didn't have a weapon. He had a big mouth. That man wasn't going to stand for it, and it cost Jordan Davis his life," Assistant State Attorney John Guy said on Wednesday in wrapping up the prosecution's case at the end of a week-long trial. "This case is not about self-defense. It's about self-denial," he said. The case has drawn comparisons to the trial of George Zimmerman, the former central Florida neighborhood watchman who was acquitted last year of murder in the shooting an unarmed black 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin. If found guilty, Dunn, a software engineer who has been in custody since the incident, faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors have said they would not seek the death penalty. The jury of 8 whites, 2 blacks, one Asian and one Hispanic is being sequestered during deliberations. Dunn's attorney Cory Strolla denied at a press conference that racism had anything to do with his client's decision to shoot into a carful of black teenagers playing what he referred to on the stand as "crap rap." Strolla explained that young blacks and whites listen to "so-called gangster music" and "unfortunately try to imitate" behavior they hear described in the music. Strolla was asked to explain jailhouse letters penned by Dunn in which he used the word "thugs" to describe black inmates. "The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they're threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior," he wrote in one letter. Strolla responded that the letter was written after Dunn's life had been threatened in jail. Dunn took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday and told the jury he started shooting in a state of panic after the exchange of words grew more heated and he thought he saw the barrel of a gun in the back window as Davis started to get out of the car. Police said they found no weapon in the teens' Durango after the shooting. In what some analysts have said was key testimony during the trial, Rouer told the jury that on the night of the shooting Dunn never mentioned to her seeing a gun in the teens' car, despite later telling police that was why he opened fire. (Writing by David Adams; editing by Gunna Dickson)
A north Florida jury began a fourth day of deliberations on Saturday in the trial of a middle-aged man accused of murder after he shot and killed a teenager in a gas station parking lot during an argument over blaring rap music.
Anne Sacoolas, 45, was sentenced over an August 2019 accident in which 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car outside RAF Croughton, an air base in eastern England that is used by U.S. forces. Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time.
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