Nearly seven months after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman, whose shooting of Trayvon Martin made him synonymous with Florida's Stand Your Ground law, the state's latest drama involving a fatal burst of gunfire and a claim of self-defense began to play out yesterday in a Jacksonville courtroom, the New York Times reports. While race is woven into the background of the murder trial of Michael Dunn, 47, a white software developer who said he killed Jordan Davis, a black teenager, in a 2012 confrontation about loud music, the trial appears likely to focus less on race and more on the mechanics of Florida's self-defense laws and how juries apply them.
A prosecutor and a defense lawyer yesterday presented divergent theories about the motive for what took place at a convenience store. Prosecutor John Guy, part of the team that prosecuted Zimmerman, portrayed Dunn as “fueled by anger and intent” after hearing what he described to his fiancée as “thug music.” Cory Strolla, Dunn's lawyer, said Dunn had been compelled to act and pulled a handgun from the glove compartment of his car only after he felt endangered. “Jordan Davis threatened Michael Dunn,” Strolla told jurors. The only certain outcome of the trial is that it will call new attention to Florida's laws protecting those involved in shootings who claim self-defense. Opponents of those protections predicted that Dunn's trial would allow for a deeper exploration of self-defense laws with fewer distractions tied to race.