JACKSONVILLE Fla. (Reuters) – Jury selection is due to begin on Monday in the north Florida retrial of a white, middle-aged man charged with killing an unarmed black teenager during a dispute about loud rap music.
A Jacksonville jury previously deadlocked on a charge of first-degree murder for Michael Dunn, 47, who claimed to be acting in self-defense in the shooting death.
Dunn, a software engineer, fired 10 rounds at an SUV carrying four black teens listening to music in a Jacksonville gas station parking lot in November 2012, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
The jury convicted Dunn in February on three lesser counts of attempted murder for firing at the three teens who survived in the vehicle, which was parked next to Dunn’s. His sentencing was postponed until after his retrial on the outstanding charge.
The first trial received international attention over its racial overtones and Dunn’s claims of self-defense, drawing comparisons to the case of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder in Florida last year in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, another unarmed, black 17-year-old.
The defense sought a change of venue for the retrial due to publicity surrounding the case. Circuit Judge Russell Healey ruled earlier this month he would attempt to seat an impartial jury before ruling on the defense request.
Dunn testified at his original trial that he started shooting in a state of panic, after he thought he saw the barrel of a gun in the back window as Davis started to get out of the car.
Prosecutors said Davis used foul language when confronting Dunn, but that Davis was unarmed and never posed a physical threat.
Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines in Florida for crimes committed with a gun mean that Dunn, who had no prior convictions, faces at least 60 years in jail.
(Editing by David Adams and Marguerita Choy)