NBC News, among many other media outlets, recently reported on a Florida case involving many similarities to the George Zimmerman case: a man in Florida was charged for killing a black teen, who was unarmed at the time of his death, and is arguing self-defense at his trial. While most people are familiar with the outcome of Zimmerman’s trial, many are not so sure that Michael Dunn, the man charged in this case, will follow the same path.
The Cases Distinguished
Many experts are saying that Michael Dunn’s case is only similar to the Zimmerman case on the surface. The substantial differences will make it difficult to successfully argue self-defense. Main differences that experts are pointing to as the basis for their reasoning include:
In November 2012, Dunn fired ten times into a vehicle full of teenagers, killing the 17-year-old driver, and then drove back to the hotel where he was staying. After the incident involving Zimmerman and his victim, Zimmerman stayed on the scene of the shooting.
Zimmerman was the only eyewitness to the incident ending in Trayvon Martin’s death. In Dunn’s case, numerous eyewitness accounts are available.
Zimmerman sustained injuries as the result of the incident involving Martin. Dunn received no injuries in the exchange with the teen victim.
Dunn pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and says he fired at the vehicle on self-defense. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Dunn testified in Court that he thought he saw the barrel of a shotgun pointed at him during the course of an argument with the teens, which stemmed from the loud music the teens were playing from their car. Dunn said the music was ridiculously loud, and he asked the teens to turn down the volume. They complied and he thanked them, but then, he said, they began yelling derogatory racial terms and expletives towards him before turning up the volume on the stereo again.
Dunn said he saw one of the teen occupants reach down for an object that was against the car door, and that another teen got out of the car, which he took as a dangerous threat. Dunn alleged he was in clear and present danger, and then got his weapon out of his glove box and fired at the vehicle. He had had the gun for 20 years, which he also has a permit for, and never had to use it throughout the duration of his possession.
Prosecutors say the exchange made Dunn feel disrespected by the teenager, and that he lost control. The state’s attorney said Dunn was not happy with the teen’s attitude and that Dunn took the actions he did in a premeditated manner. He rejected the notion that Dunn acted in self-defense and urged the jury to reject the defense in favor of a fair verdict.
Effect of Case’s Outcome on Florida Law
A legal analyst for NBC said that if Dunn’s case ended in an acquittal, it is very likely that the state of Florida would re-examine the stand your ground law, which did not happen after the Zimmerman verdict. While the facts of Zimmerman’s case left objective people thinking there was reasonable doubt, the facts of this case will not be so forgiving.
For a case in which the perpetrator was not injured, no weapons were found, and the shooter left the scene immediately after the incident, if the ‘stand your ground’ defense can still be argued, it may be evidence that the law is being misused as a convenient reason to escalate violence any time.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a confrontation and has acted in self-defense, you have rights in defending any criminal case brought against you in the state of Florida. Contact us today for a consultation.