Michael Dunn was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for his first-degree murder conviction in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed African-American teen Jordan Davis. Dunn received an additional 90-year sentence for three attempted murder convictions and a 15-year sentence for firing his gun into a vehicle. Dunn was convicted of the latter four counts in February, when the jury failed to reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charge. After a retrial, a separate jury convicted Dunn on that count this month.
While Dunn and his girlfriend were stopped at a Jacksonville, Florida, convenience station on Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn asked Davis and three friends to turn down the music in their car. During Dunn’s first trial, his girlfriend testified that Dunn had told her, “I hate that thug music.” An argument broke out between Dunn and Davis and his friends, and even though Davis was unarmed, Dunn asserted that the 17-year-old threatened to kill him. Dunn, who was carrying a concealed weapon, fired 10 rounds into Davis' vehicle, fatally wounding the teen.
The racially charged case involved an invocation of Florida's “stand your ground” law by Dunn's defense. The case also brought damning evidence of Dunn's racism to bear; he wrote in a jail letter that “[t]he more time I am exposed to these people, the more prejudiced against them I become.” An audio recording also captured Dunn describing black men as “animals.”
Dunn's conviction and sentence stand in contrast to the fate of George Zimmerman, who was tried in another racially charged Florida slaying after he shot and killed the unarmed African-American 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. A Sanford, Florida, jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder in July 2013, generating outrage over racial bias in the justice system. But sentencing Dunn on Friday, Judge Russell Healey asserted that Dunn's case shows "that our justice system does work."