Jordan Davis was in the car with three friends the night he was attacked. The jury did find Michael Dunn guilty on three counts of second degree attempted murder—one for each of the three boys in the car with Davis. However, they failed to reach a verdict on an actual murder charge for Davis.
Presented with the facts in this case, I can understand how some on the jury may have been somewhat reluctant to convict Davis of murder in the first degree. Murder in the first degree requires that an act be from a “premeditated” design in order to intentionally cause death.
A second degree murder charge does not require “premeditation.” In order to be convicted of second degree murder, an individual must engage in the “unlawful killing of a human being” during an act that is “imminently dangerous to another” and in a “depraved mind.” The obvious in this case is that Dunn’s actions were imminently dangerous and resulted in the death of Davis and so the remaining question is whether or not his actions were committed out of a “depraved mind” or in other words a “ill-will” for Davis.
The fact that the jury did not convict Dunn of second degree murder is troubling. It shows that the jury did not believe Dunn actions were committed out of ill-will toward the defendant. Davis and his friends were unarmed; Dunn initiated the initial confrontation over Davis’ music, and had ample time to get in his car in leave if he thought Davis had a gun. But, Dunn was still able to successfully argue his actions were committed out of self-defense and fear for his own life.
My thoughts are with Mr. Davis and Ms. McBath for the loss of their son and I am worried that this verdict may usher in a renewed reality. Black men have been demonized for so long that the fact of our race can now be used as a legitimate defense to murder.