Judge asked to delay Michael Dunn's sentencing

By Tarik Minor, Anchor-reporter, tminor@wjxt.com
News4Jax.com Staff, webteam@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 26 2014 05:17:01 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 27 2014 07:32:46 PM EST

After the jury found Michael Dunn guilty of 3 counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into a vehicle, the judge set Dunn's sentencing for March 24th. He could get at least 60 years in prison. Now, his lawyer is asking a judge to postpone the sentencing until after Dunn is retried. Channel 4's Tarik Minor talked with a legal analyst about this defense motion.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The defense attorney for Michael Dunn has filed a motion asking the judge to delay his sentencing on four felony counts connected to the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting into the SUV that killed Jordan Davis.

Dunn claims he fired in self-defense.

While the jury was deadlocked on the murder charge of the 17-year-old, Dunn was convicted early this month of three counts of attempted murder -- one for each of the teenagers in the vehicle with Davis -- and one count of firing into an occupied vehicle.  His sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 24.

Cory Strolla is asking Judge Russell Healey to delay the sentencing for Dunn's convictions until after the retrial on the first-degree murder charge, which the state attorney's office says could happen as soon as May.

Lawyers not associated with the case say if Dunn prepares a statement or testifies at his sentencing, he puts himself in a precarious legal dilemma regarding his Fifth Amendment rights.

"Who knows what he could say?" said attorney Gene Nichols. "He could say something completely different that what he said in trial. He could apologize for those crimes. Can you imagine what the state attorney's office would do in that trial? They would use those statements against him."

Nichols said the attempted murder charges Dunn was convicted on are intertwined with the first-degree murder charge. Anything Dunn would say at a sentencing hearing can be used against him in later court proceedings.

"It's a well-founded motion," Nichols said. "Strolla needs to make sure he doesn't affect his client's rights."

If Judge Russell Healey denies the request to delay the sentencing and Dunn does take the stand, legal experts say that could lead to an appeal.

"You can expect Mr. Strolla will argue, 'There were multiple things I wanted Dunn to say on his own behalf that we chose not to say because this other case is still pending.' Judge Healey is in a difficult situation in this one," Nichols said.

A spokesperson for the state attorneys office says they intend on responding to the defense's motion for a delay within the next 24 hours. It's unclear when the judge will make his decision. 

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