So here I am, in five-below-zero Cleveland on a Monday morning, watching CNN’s sandbag interview of George Zimmerman, and listening to Nancy Grace and assorted other talking heads conflate his case with Saturday’s verdict on Michael Dunn in the Jacksonville “loud music” homicide.
It makes me want to wander outside into the snow. There’s less bullshit out there in the cold, clean air.
The Dunn verdict gives me no heartburn. He sent bullets toward three young men who were fleeing from him and had themselves shown him no overt threat; that suffices to sustain the jury’s guilty verdicts on three counts of attempted murder, and for firing at the vehicle. There is much rage that the jury could not agree on a verdict on the charge of murdering the fourth young man, Jordan Davis. The defendant came across well with his testimony, unsupported by any other testimony, that he perceived Jordan to be bringing a gun to bear on him when he fired the fatal shots.
Did that suffice to give at least one juror reasonable doubt as to guilt? To believe that Dunn might well be telling the truth? That seems to be the primary assumption of commentators so far. It’s certainly a possibility, but it might also have been that the jury simply couldn’t agree on premeditated murder vis-à-vis lesser included offenses. In his closing statement, prosecutor John Guy told the jury that the state didn’t want anything less than a Murder One conviction. It may turn out to be a case of “be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.”
Just hypothetically, if Michael Dunn was telling the truth and there was a shotgun in the other vehicle when he opened fire upon it, the defense claim that the young men in that vehicle dumped the evidence is rendered largely moot by Dunn’s own actions. When he fled the scene, he didn’t just trigger the whole “flight equals guilt” thing; he removed from the scene the one person who could have told police that there might be a shotgun they should be looking for. It puts him somewhat in the position of the guy who kills his parents and then pleads the court’s mercy as an orphan. The cops can’t find something they don’t know to look for.
There was much fail in Michael Dunn’s actions. The innocence he claimed was nowhere near as clear as Zimmerman’s, based on his statements at the scene, and the totality of the evidence. The cases don’t really belong in the same discussion, and neither has a damn thing to do with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Dunn emerges as, at best, a bad example of stupid behavior whose only positive legacy will be learning points for more responsible armed citizens. Zimmeman remains a whipping boy for the willful ignorance of those who prefer superficial sensationalism to research into the actual principles of law and justice.
Part One of the CNN Interview:
Part Two of the CNN Interview: