Dunn retrial: Homeless man says he heard the gunfire

1411741832000-92614dunnJACKSONVILLE — The second day of Michael Dunn’s murder retrial began Friday morning at the Duval County Courthouse with testimony from a homeless man who says he heard the gunfire erupt.

Shawn Atkins told the court he was living in his 1988 Dodge Dakota extended-bed truck with his girlfriend on Nov. 23, 2012, when he heard someone open fire at the Gate gas station.

“They sounded like firecrackers going off. I thought someone was playing a joke. And then I look over, and the red Durango’s backing up real fast. And I see a man shooting outside a Volkswagen,” Atkins said. He said he never saw anyone with a weapon in the SUV.

Police said Dunn, a 47-year-old software developer, fired a trio of volleys totaling 10 bullets at a red Dodge Durango occupied by Jordan Davis and three other black teenagers during a dispute over thumping music blaring from the SUV.

Davis, 17, was shot in his right side and both legs, and he died shortly afterward.

During a February trial, Dunn was convicted of three counts of second-degree attempted murder and one count of shooting or throwing deadly missiles. But that jury could not reach a verdict on the murder charge. The case has sparked nationwide debate on Florida’s firearm self-defense laws and race relations.

On Wednesday, a new jury of seven white men, three white women, a black man and a black woman — was chosen, and the retrial began Thursday. Jurors were sequestered at a hotel Thursday morning, where they will stay during the remainder of the trial.

Atkins, 23, is now serving a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to 25 felonies for breaking into a house and stealing gold from a relative last year.

Wearing handcuffs and green jail inmate garb, Atkins told jurors he memorized and reported Dunn’s license tag to a cashier after the shooting. The information was used by authorities to track down Dunn, who had not called police to report the incident.

Also testifying Friday morning was Tevin Thompson, 19, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the red Dodge Durango when Dunn opened fire.

Thompson testified the rap music in the SUV was “pretty loud,” and Dunn said, “Turn the music down. I can’t hear myself think.” Thompson said he looked “a bit upset,” so he turned down the volume.

In response, Thompson said Davis told him, “(Expletive) that (expletive). Turn the music back up.” So he turned it back up.

Davis and Dunn continued to exchange words, and Thompson saw Dunn brandish a silver and black gun. He said Dunn angrily asked, “Are you talking to me?” then aimed his gun toward Davis’ door and fired.

Dunn faces at least 60 years in prison for his February convictions. In a Friday blog post, John Phillips, the lawyer representing Davis’ parents, Lucy McBath and Ron Davis, stated that Dunn’s retrial is not a waste of taxpayer dollars because those convictions are subject to appeal.

“If Dunn is found guilty in a separate proceeding, defended by a separate lawyer, the odds that at least one of the two guilty verdicts is upheld drastically increase, which completely eliminates losing one judgment to appeal and Dunn going free. This trial is significant,” Phillips wrote.

He also contended that Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws empowered Dunn to take lethal action.

“Make no mistake, Stand Your Ground empowered Dunn and gave him the right to kill — if only in his own mind. He did not have to retreat and could use irrational and unreasonable facts to support use of lethal force. Stand Your Ground laws caused Jordan’s murder,” Phillips wrote.