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Juror in Michael Dunn trial: 'Race was never a factor'

Juror in Michael Dunn trial: 'Race was never a factor'
Lucia McBath via CNN
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Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 10:54pm

One of the jurors in the trial of Michael Dunn said that race played no part in the case.

The Florida jury on Saturday convicted Dunn, 47, on three charges of attempted second-degree murder for shooting into an SUV holding four black teenagers, after arguing with Jordan Davis, 17, about the volume of their music.

Dunn is white; Davis was black.

The shots continued even as the SUV was fleeing, and Dunn was also convicted of one count of shooting into the vehicle.

But a first-degree murder charge for Davis' death resulted in a hung jury.

"I never once thought about, oh, this was a black kid. This was a white guy," Juror No. 8 Creshuna Miles told CNN on Thursday.

"We didn't even think about the race aspect of it," she said. "Race was never a factor ... when I was making my decision."

The case, for Miles, was just about justice.

"When I walked into it, I just wanted to bring justice to whoever it was," she said.

Miles, 21, said she believes Dunn is guilty of murder, but not as charged. She thinks he was guilty of second-degree murder.

"I think he is a good guy. I don't think he hates everybody. I don't think he walks around wanting to shoot everybody. I think that he made bad decisions," she said.

Like Juror No. 4, who spoke to ABC News' "Nightline," Miles said that the jury was split over the issue of self-defense.

In his testimony, Dunn insisted that Davis threatened him and that he saw a gun. Police never recovered a weapon.

Both jurors felt Dunn crossed a line when he continued to fire at the SUV as it fled the scene, that any threat Dunn may have felt earlier had passed.

"I was honestly convinced that he was in self-defense until he chased the car down and started shooting more," Miles said. "Even if initially you didn't have the opportunity to take yourself out of the situation to stop, running behind the car and shooting more, that's where you completely push your limits."

Miles is one of two black women who served on the jury. The others were four white women, four white men, an Asian woman and a Hispanic man.

'Could not agree'

Miles said that Dunn's fiancee, witness Rhonda Rouer, made the biggest impact on her.

Rouer testified that in the weeks after the shooting, Dunn had never mentioned to her that he had seen a weapon of any kind.

"She's the sweetest lady, you can tell. She was nervous. She was shaking. She was trembling, like she could hardly move, but she yet she still got up there and told the truth," Miles said. "She knew she had to tell the truth, but she knew how much it would hurt her life. But yet, she still told the truth."

Miles said that she and the other jurors "just could not agree" on the murder charge.

When asked what she would tell Davis' family members, the juror said that she would tell them that she tried.

"I really did try. I tried to fight for his son. We, everyone that felt he was guilty, we fought and we fought and we fought, and I saw the look on his dad's face when we came to nothing," she said. "I know it hurts. It's like thinking you've got this wound healed and then somebody slices it open again because now they have to go through that whole process all over again."

Misgivings about Florida law

Miles spoke the same day Davis' parents told CNN's "New Day" that Florida's laws about self-defense need to be changed.

"We're going to go to Tallahassee, the state capital, and we're going to try to get the 'stand your ground' law rewritten," said Ron Davis.

"That's our mission -- to make sure that we bring to light and expose all the laws in our nation that are not effective in keeping our citizens safe," said the teen's mother, Lucia McBath.

Florida law says the use of deadly force is justifiable if someone reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. Its law also says people have no "duty" to retreat from a would-be attacker, as do laws in 21 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dunn's attorneys did not use the "stand your ground" defense, but prosecutor Angela Corey told CNN on Wednesday that the laws need to revert to what they were before "stand your ground" was enacted, in 2005.

"I believe prosecutors and the sheriffs association are in favor of the former laws that we had on use of deadly force, and we do believe that, before someone should engage in a physical altercation, or especially an altercation where deadly force is used, we do believe there should be a duty to retreat," she said.

Ron Davis said the jurors who deliberated for four days whether his son's killer committed premeditated murder in the first degree faced another hurdle in not being able to use their "common sense," as prosecutor John Guy had urged them to do in his closing-argument rebuttal.

"Common sense and the law is not the same thing, unfortunately," Davis said. "To the layman, premeditation is if you go home to get a gun or you go in your car separately to get a gun or you plan something -- to us, that's premeditation. But to the law, it could be three seconds."

Despite his assertion that the current law was responsible for the hung jury, Davis said he supported Corey's decision to retry Dunn on the murder charge. "The world needs to know that Jordan Davis did nothing wrong and that this man is guilty of killing our son, of murdering our son," he said.

'Rap crap'

The incident occurred November 23, 2012, when Dunn pulled into a gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red Dodge Durango with four teenagers inside.

The teens had gone there for gum and cigarettes; Dunn, had just left his son's wedding with his fiancee, who'd gone inside the convenience store for wine and chips.

Dunn didn't like the loud music -- "rap crap," he called it -- coming from the teens' SUV. So he asked them to turn it down.

What followed next is a matter of debate. Dunn testified that Davis threatened him, and he decided to take matters into his own hands upon seeing what he thought was the barrel of a gun sticking out of the Durango.

But prosecutors say Dunn lost control, firing 10 bullets, nine of which struck the SUV, over music he didn't like.

"My intent was to stop the attack, not necessarily end a life," he testified. "It just worked out that way."

Police found a basketball, basketball shoes, clothing, a camera tripod and cups inside the Durango, but no gun.

-- CNN's Ed Payne, Greg Botelho, Steve Almasy and Sunny Hostin contributed to this report.

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