Michael Dunn was charged with the shooting death of a teen on Nov. 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville. Police said he shot and killed the teen over loud music.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (USA Today) -- The Florida man accused of killing a 17-year-old from Marietta after a dispute over loud rap music testified Tuesday that he was taunted and felt menaced in the moments before the shooting.
But Michael David Dunn, on trial for first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, said he drove off from the gas station after firing 10 shots at the SUV in which Jordan Davis was sitting because he didn't think anyone had been hurt. He didn't learn that Davis, 17, had been killed until hours later.
Prior to the shooting on Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn said the teens in the SUV taunted him and "had menacing expressions" after he had asked them to turn down the music. He thought he saw one of them hold something that appeared to be a shotgun.
"I had every right of self-defense, and I took it,'' said Dunn, whose testimony and cross examination began shortly before 10:30 a.m., not ending until after 3 p.m.
"I was in fear for my life,'' Dunn said earlier. "I had never been threatened, let alone with a firearm. I was incredulous. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing."
Dunn is white. Davis was black. The case has drawn comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of another black Florida teen, Trayvon Martin, killed during a struggle with neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. A Florida jury later acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder.
Dunn said he tried to remain calm behind the wheel of his car while Davis hurled obscenities and threats at him from inside a red Dodge Durango. But Dunn said Davis reached down, picked something up and slammed it against the rear-passenger door of the Durango. Dunn said he spotted about 4 inches of an object in the window frame that resembled a 12-gauge shotgun -- and their dispute over vehicle-rattling rap music escalated.
"After the continued threat of, 'You're dead, (expletive)!' now the door opens and this young man gets out. And as his head clears the window frame, he says, "This (expletive)'s going down now!" Dunn said Tuesday from the witness stand, jabbing a pointed finger.
"This is the point where my death is imminent. He's coming to kill me. He's coming to beat me," he said.
"I thought I was going to be killed,'' Dunn testified.
As he was retrieving his pistol from the glove box of his car, Dunn, 47, testified he felt the situation was "a clear and present danger."
Prosecutors have said Dunn became enraged during the dispute over loud music and fired 10 shots at the Dodge Durango. Davis and his friends were inside the vehicle at a gas station parking lot on the south side of Jacksonville.
Dunn, who broke down repeatedly during his testimony, said Tuesday that he feared not only for his safety, but for his fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, who had gone into the gas station to purchase wine and potato chips.
After firing several shots from his handgun, Dunn said he fired again into the SUV "to keep the heads down ... of three or four potential shooters."
After the SUV drove off, Dunn said he still felt threatened. "I shot at them, now, what are they going to do?"
On cross-examination, assistant State Attorney John Guy asserted that Davis was never a threat, and that Dunn merely opened fire after he was disrespected by a mouthy teenager.
Guy also said Dunn never mentioned to Rouer that he thought he had spotted a shotgun in the SUV. Dunn earlier testified he told Rouer they had a gun multiple times on the way to their hotel after the shooting.
"The truth is, you never told the love of your life that those boys had a gun," Guy said.
"You weren't there,'' Dunn replied.
Following his testimony, Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson called Rouer back to the witness stand. Rouer repeatedly said Dunn made no mention of a shotgun, stick or weapon in the Durango following the shooting.
Dunn and Rouer had been in Jacksonville attending the wedding of Dunn's son, Chris. They left the wedding reception early to return to their motel room to tend to their 7-month-old puppy, a French bulldog named Charley, Dunn said.
He didn't contact police that day, either.
"You have to understand, we didn't think anybody was hurt,'' he testified. "We were not in trouble with police. We might be in trouble with the local gangsters, but did nothing wrong."
The following morning, he was contacted by a Jacksonville detective. Dunn told him that he acted in self-defense.
"Again, I knew I had done nothing wrong,'' he said. He said he never thought he would be charged with murder.
Dunn is a South Patrick Shores, Fla., computer programmer, a private pilot and Port Malabar Rifle and Pistol Club member.
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