Dunn's defense may protest September trial date

Published On: Apr 09 2013 08:10:41 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 09 2013 06:45:48 PM EDT

The attorney for Michael Dunn, the man accused in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, isn't sure he'll have enough time to prepare his defense before a Sept. 23 trial date.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The attorney for Michael Dunn, the man accused in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, isn't sure he'll have enough time to prepare his defense before a Sept. 23 trial date.

Lawyer Cory Strolla has made it clear the defense will claim Dunn fired into an SUV of teenagers in self-defense, and he feels the hours of video showing Dunn's initial questioning by detectives will support that claim.

Judge Suzanne Bass scheduled the trial during a hearing Tuesday morning. Dunn was not in court. Strolla filed two motions -- one claiming prosecutors are not cooperating in providing police and civilian witnesses for defense depositions, and the other asking for the release of five hours of surveillance video and audio from inside the Gate convenience store on the night of the shooting.

"We are asking for that video because we found out just yesterday there's actually audio on those cameras that recorded the shooting," Strolla said. "It also recorded people talking. The state only has about 15 minutes of the video. Meanwhile, police were on scene for more than an hour. So I want that video."

Video of Dunn's interrogation released Monday shows him giving his side of the story in the shooting death of Davis at a gas station that started in a dispute over loud music.

Some of the things that stood out in Dunn's interrogation video were all the things he did after the shooting besides calling police. He ordered a pizza and spent the night in a Jacksonville hotel before driving back home to Brevard County. Investigators questioned him on those decisions.

"The problem, I can tell you where we start to kind of get a little wondering," police said to Dunn. "By the time you say you get to your hotel room, you call and order pizza. Why aren't you calling us?"

Dunn responded by saying, "I wanted to come back to my hometown to do that, and our dog and everybody were where they needed to be. I didn't want to bring a (expletive) storm down on them in Jacksonville."

Strolla said Dunn, in the interrogation video, comes across as honest and sincere.

"We'll be able to prove with expert testimony that there were no signs of deception on that video," he said. "I don't think the state can find a witness that can argue that he was not credible on that video."

As to what started the whole confrontation, Dunn said he nicely asked the SUV full of teens to turn the music down.

"Got out, she's in the store, and there's like an SUV next to us," Dunn told investigators. "And the music starts, and I roll down my window, and I thought I was polite. I asked them nicely. I asked, 'Would you mind turning that down?' They started. I was like, 'Thank you.' Cordial, everything's cordial. I put my window back up. I'm doing my stuff. I don't know how many kids are in that."

But Dunn said it didn't remain cordial. He said the music went back up, and then one of the teens started yelling, "Kill him." Dunn said he didn't know if they were singing to music or talking about him.

Dozens celebrate 'Jordan Davis Day' at the Landing He said that one of the teens inside the SUV bent down to pick something up and he thought the teen might be reaching for a gun.

Defense lawyers for the teens say they were unarmed, but Dunn said he didn't know that.

"The fact that police say they didn't find a weapon, that's what they say, did the state do a thorough investigation, that's going to be decided at trial," Strolla said.

Dunn told investigators he was unsure if what he saw in the SUV was a shotgun barrel or a stick pointed at him.

"If you look at why he said it was a stick, it's because the officers kept saying, could have it been something else? We didn't find a weapon," Strolla said. "So Mr. Dunn said, 'It could have been, but I know what I saw.'"

Dunn said he reached for his gun and started shooting because he thought the teen was going to get out of the SUV. Dunn fired again as the SUV sped off through the parking lot.

"Quicker than a flash, I had a round chambered in it and I shot," Dunn said.

"Do you remember how many times you shot?" a detective asked.

"I shot four times and pull out, and in my mind they got a gun," Dunn said. "And so not training, I was still scared. And so I shot four more times."

"When you were fleeing?" the detective asked.

"Yeah, when their heads were down to not catch any return fire," Dunn said.

After the interview, detectives at the Brevard County Sheriff's Office told Dunn that he was going to be arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder.

Videos and audios of several witness interviews were also released.

The fiancee of a man who was using the restroom at the Gate gas station told detectives she heard gunfire and looked to see a middle-aged white man leaning out of a car with a silver handgun.

"I heard two loud bangs real quick, and then the car was speeding off," she said in a sworn statement to detectives. "And then there were another four or five after that, and he had the gun in his hand."

Witness statements from those who were in the SUV in which Davis was killed and from Dunn's girlfriend, who was in the store and spoke with Dunn as they were driving off, are included in the nearly 150 pages of documents that were released last week.

Strolla told the judge he needs six months to prepare for the murder trial that's supposed to last about a week. But the judge put the trial on the books for late September, a day Davis' family is looking forward to.

"The sooner the better," said John Phillips, the Davis family's attorney. "There are a lot of witnesses and there's a lot to do to prepare for a one-week trial."

Phillips said that in the civil case against Dunn, he'll file a claim of defamation on behalf of Davis' family because of Dunn's claim he saw a shotgun that was never found.

Dunn, 46, was denied bond and will remain in jail until his trial.

In court Tuesday, Dunn's attorney asked the state to pay for his legal fees because Dunn's only asset is a car that the state already seized.

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