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Partial verdict in Florida loud-music killing

Jury in trial of man who shot teenager to death in row over loud music deadlocked over charge of first degree murder.

Last updated: 16 Feb 2014 03:51
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Dunn, left, fired 10 rounds at a car carrying four teenagers after an argument over their loud rap music [Reuters]

A north Florida jury has convicted a man of three counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a car of black teenagers during an argument over loud rap music, but could not reach a verdict on a murder charge for the killing of a 17-year-old in the car.

Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old software engineer, fired 10 rounds at an SUV carrying the four teenagers in a Jacksonville petrol station car park in November 2012, killing Jordan Davis.

The jury said it was deadlocked on the most serious charge of first degree murder against Dunn, forcing judge Russell Healey to declare a mistrial on that count.

The jury also found Dunn guilty on a fifth count of firing into an occupied vehicle, the Reuters news agency reported.

The trial has drawn international attention because of racial overtones and Dunn's claims of self-defence.

Following the case in which George Zimmerman was acquitted six months ago over the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the trial also renewed attention towards Florida's self-defense laws that permit people who say they feel threatened to use lethal force to defend themselves.

The failure to reach a verdict on the first degree murder charge is a blow for the prosecution and the Davis family.

But the three guilty verdicts on the charge of attempted second degree murder against the other teenagers in the SUV, mean that Dunn still faces a sentence of at least 60 years in jail, legal analysts said.

'Long road'

Prosecutors told a news conference after the verdicts that they plan to retry Dunn on the first degree murder charge, Reuters reported.

"It's been a long, long road and we're so very happy to have just a little bit of closure," Davis' mother, Lucy McBath, told reporters.

"It's sad for Mr Dunn that he will live the rest of his life in that sense of torment. I will pray for him. I will ask my family to pray for him.

"But we are so grateful for the charges that have been brought against him, we are so grateful for the truth, we are so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all."

The sequestered jury began deliberating on Wednesday afternoon after a week of testimony and spent more than 30 hours trying to reach a verdict.

Dunn, who had no prior convictions, testified earlier this week that he began shooting in a state of panic after he thought he saw the barrel of a gun in the back window as Davis started to get out of the car.

Prosecutors said Davis, who had no arrest record, used foul language when confronting Dunn after the argument broke out, but was unarmed and never posed a physical threat.

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