Prosecution Wraps Case, Defense Calls First Witnesses In Dunn Retrial
The fourth day of testimony in the Michael Dunn trial brought a lengthy end to the state's case and five new witnesses for the defense.
Forensic consultant Michael Knox testified that 17-year-old Jordan Davis’s car door was open and he may have been partially outside the vehicle when he was shot by Michael Dunn.
Dunn is charged with fatally shooting the teen at a Southside Gate gas station during a confrontation over loud music. Dunn has claimed he acted in self-defense, and in February, a jury deadlocked on whether to convict him of murder
Monday, Knox said bullet trajectories indicated that Davis likely opened the back door of the vehicle during the exchange.
"There is no way that those trajectories align without the door being open to some extent," he said.
He also testified that based on the amount of glass found in the vehicle, the back window where Davis sat was likely down, contradicting the earlier account of witness Tevin Thomas who said the window was up.
However, when pressed further by Assistant State Attorney John Guy, Knox said he couldn't say with certainty that Davis's feet ever left the vehicle.
The defense called four other witnesses throughout the afternoon. All of them were character witnesses, including Dunn's ex-wife Phyllis Austin who described Dunn as a calm man who was slow to anger.
For the state, it was a tense last day of testimony. Former associate Medical Examiner Dr. Stacey Simons took the stand for more than three hours detailing the bullet paths that left Davis dead.
Simons was the state’s 27th and last witness.
She testified that bullets entered Davis through his thigh, pelvic area and chest. It was the shot through his chest that likely ended his life, she said.
As photos of Jordan Davis’s lifeless body flashed across the courtroom screen, his father Ron Davis stared straight ahead refusing to look. Davis’s mother Lucia was not in the room.
Questioning became combative at times between Simons and defense attorney Waffa as she drilled Simons on her credentials.
Hanania had initially objected to parts of Simons testimony, arguing she was not qualified to analyze ballistics. Again, she challenged Simons qualifications to re-construct a crime scene Monday.
"You are not a certified re-constructionist, correct?" she asked.
"No," Simons replied.
Hanania noted that Simons was a graphics designer prior to going into forensic pathology. She also claimed Simons was one of the "least experienced" associates in the Medical Examiner's Office.
Simons retorted that was incorrect.
At one point during questioning, Simons cut in.
"I'd appreciate if you gave me more time to answer," she said.
Simons' testimony continued well into the afternoon. Throughout the latter part she used a dowel and dummy referred to as "Bendy" to demonstrate the way in which bullets entered Davis.
Meanwhile, a brief dispute between the court and local press over public records has been resolved.
On Saturday, the Florida Times-Union and its partner station First Coast News requested the transcripts of the sidebar interview with a juror removed from the trial, which Circuit Judge Russell Healey was hesitant to oblige due to the "sensitivity" of the material.
"I don't want anybody figuring out who this guy is," Healey said Saturday.
Juror 4 was removed following a Folio Weekly article that alleged he made disparaging comments about State Attorney Angela Corey.
The white, male juror was described as a "400-pound school teacher" by potential juror Richard David Smith, who was interviewed by the publication.
He was replaced by another white male alternate juror.
The full transcript of that courtroom conversation can be found here.
The defense is expected wrap up their case by Tuesday afternoon. Healey said both sides will likely make their closing arguments Wednesday.
You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.
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