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National News

February 15, 2014

Jury breaks for night in Florida slaying case

The Florida jury weighing the fate of Michael Dunn, accused of shooting an unarmed teenager to death during a dispute over loud music, told officials yesterday that it had hit a wall in its deliberations and then broken for the night. Deliberations were to resume this morning.

Jurors have deliberated for more than 181/2 hours since receiving the case Wednesday afternoon.

Yesterday, the jury asked the judge whether it could hand in a verdict on some charges even if it could not reach a unanimous agreement on one charge. The question has widely been interpreted to mean that the jurors had resolved some issues but were split on at least one charge.

Judge Russell L. Healey said the jury could reach a verdict on some charges and remain undecided on others. The state would then have the option of retrying Dunn on the charges for which there was no verdict, he said.

Dunn, 47, who is white, is accused of firing 10 shots and killing Jordan Davis, 17, who was black, during an expletive-laden confrontation over the volume of rap music coming from an SUV on Nov. 23, 2012, at a Jacksonville, Fla., convenience store and gas station. Three of Davis’ friends were also in the vehicle and were uninjured.

Dunn has argued that he shot in self-defense because he felt his life was in danger and that he saw what he thought was a shotgun barrel. No weapon was recovered.

Dunn faces five charges including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of firing into the vehicle. If convicted of the top count, Dunn could spend the rest of his life in prison. The other charges also carry penalties of 15 years or more in prison.

The jury can also consider lesser charges.

Late yesterday, the sequestered jury of seven women and five men asked if they could take a 30-minute break. That was combined with time for dinner.

When the break was over, Judge Healey said in televised proceedings that the jurors had indicated they had reached a wall in their deliberations for the evening. Healey praised the jurors and sent them back to their hotel.

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