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Jury in Florida loud music trial voted 9-3 to convict -Juror #4

Michael Dunn (L) raises his hands in disbelief as he looks toward his parents after the verdicts were announced in his trial in Jacksonville
Michael Dunn (L) raises his hands in disbelief as he looks toward his parents after the verdicts were announced in his trial in Jacksonville

By Susan Cooper Eastman

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - The Florida jury in the loud music murder trial of Michael Dunn voted 9-3 in favor of convicting the 47-year-old software engineer of first-degree murder, a member of the panel said in a television interview.

Identified only as Valerie, and Juror #4, she said Dunn, who is white, got away with killing black teenager Jordan Davis.

"A life was taken. There is no longer a Jordan Davis, and there is only one reason why that is. The boy was shot and killed for reasons that should not have happened," the juror, a home healthcare nurse administrator, told ABC's Nightline news show on Wednesday.

"Do you think Michael Dunn got away with murder?" a Nightline interviewer asked her.

"At this point, I do, yes," Valerie said. "To me, it was unnecessary."

Valerie said the 12-member jury realized within its first hour of deliberations that it would not be able to reach a unanimous verdict on the first-degree murder charge because two jurors initially, and three in the final vote, believed Dunn was justified in shooting under Florida's self-defense laws.

Jurors argued so passionately that Valerie said they resorted to screaming and profanity at times.

Dunn fired 10 rounds at an SUV carrying Davis, 17, and three other black teens in a Jacksonville gas station parking lot in November 2012 after a disagreement over the teens playing loud rap music.

The jury on Saturday convicted Dunn on three counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle. He faces a minimum of 60 years in prison.

But the jury could not reach a verdict on the most serious charge of first-degree murder in the killing of Davis, who was in the backseat.

Judge Russell Healey declared a mistrial on that count, and prosecutors vowed to re-try Dunn.

The case has drawn comparisons to the self-defense trial of George Zimmerman, the former central Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted last year of murder in the shooting of an unarmed, black 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin.

Dunn took the stand in the trial and said he acted in self-defense, testifying that he thought he saw Davis pick up a shotgun in the car, but investigators said no weapon was found.

Florida's Stand Your Ground law allows persons who believe they are in imminent danger of serious bodily injury to use deadly force to defend themselves.

After the verdict, Davis' parents criticized the law, but praised prosecutors and the jury for their efforts.

The jury discussed at length Dunn's decision to get out of his car and continue to fire at the SUV as it drove away and after the threat was gone, she said.

"We all believed there was another way out. Another option," Valerie said.

Dunn could have avoided the altercation by rolling up his car window, ignoring the taunting or moving his car to another parking space, she added.

Valerie told Nightline that she decided to speak out because of the outrage the verdict has generated.

"Folks don't know the law. It's not that we didn't value Mr. Davis' life. We had to make a choice," she told Nightline.

(Writing by Barbara Liston and David Adams; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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