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Friday 22 August 2014

Jury fails to convict murder accused in fatal racial shooting

Philip Sherwell in New York

Published 17/02/2014 | 02:30

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Jordan Davis' parents, Lucia McBath and Ronald Davis speak to the media in Jacksonville, Florida
Jordan Davis' parents, Lucia McBath and Ronald Davis speak to the media in Jacksonville, Florida

Florida is facing renewed calls to reform its controversial 'stand your ground' self-defence law after another jury failed to convict a white man of shooting dead an unarmed black teenager.

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In the latest racially charged murder case to stir intense emotion, the judge in Jacksonville declared a mistrial after a jury said it was deadlocked on the murder charge against Michael Dunn (47), who killed Jordan Davis (17) after a row on a petrol station forecourt about blaring "thug music".

DEADLY

Dunn, a computer programmer, still faces a lifetime behind bars after being convicted of four other counts – three of attempted murder of the victim's friends, each offence carrying up to 20 years consecutively, and one of firing a deadly weapon.

But after four days of deliberation, the jury of eight whites, two blacks, an Asian and a Hispanic failed to reach a verdict on the most serious charge of murdering Mr Davis, a high school student.

The case came just seven months after a similar high-profile murder trial in Florida in which George Zimmerman, a white-Hispanic man, was acquitted for shooting dead Trayvon Martin, another unarmed 17-year-old black man.

The outcome prompted anger from demonstrators who marched through Jacksonville chanting, "Justice for Jordan" after what they said was another case of lethal racial profiling of a black youth.

Dunn fired 10 bullets in two bursts into a car carrying the four black teenagers in November 2012, following a heated confrontation about the music blasting from their car.

Like Mr Zimmerman, Mr Dunn said he acted in fear of his life, arguing that he had the right to defend himself under the state's 'stand your ground' law. The wide-ranging statute allows the use of deadly force in self-defence in any place, not just the home, with no need to retreat to avoid confrontation.

Dunn claimed that he saw what he thought was the barrel of a gun in the SUV, but no other weapon was found and Rhonda Rouer, his fiancée, told the jury that he never mentioned another firearm as they sped off.

Mr Davis's parents have campaigned for a change to the statute since their son's killing. "We will continue to wait for justice for Jordan," said his mother, Lucia McBath, while expressing gratitude that Dunn was convicted on other charges. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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