In Florida's so-called "loud music murder trial," defendant Michael Dunn was found guilty on four of five counts late Saturday. But jurors failed to reach a verdict on his first-degree murder charge, resulting in a mistrial.
After the verdict, State Attorney Angela Corey vowed to retry Dunn on the first-degree murder charge, defending the state's decision to apply the hefty charge in the first place, Jacksonville's WJXX/WTLV-TV reports.
What will a mistrial on one charge mean for Dunn?
What Is a Mistrial?
Put simply, a mistrial is declared whenever something occurs during the trial which makes it unable to be completed. A mistrial can occur for a number of reasons, such as:
In Dunn's case, jurors were hung on the charge of first-degree murder for the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. In order to find Dunn guilty for this grave charge, jurors would have to unanimously find that with premeditation, Dunn intentionally shot and killed Davis.
Jurors couldn't reach a verdict on this charge, although they did manage to find Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one weapons charge. Assistanct State Attorney Erin Wolfson affirmed that each second-degree murder charge carries a mandatory 20-year sentence, totaling at least 60 years in prison, WJXX/WTLV reports.
Retrial for First-Degree Murder
Although Corey believes the state did not "overcharge," WJXX/WTLV reports she will consult with the victims' families before pursuing a retrial. Prosecutors like Corey are ethically bound to only move forward on charges which they know are supported by probable cause, which prevents them from filing extra charges for which there is no evidence.
If the state does move forward on a Dunn's first-degree murder retrial, it would need to put on its entire case again before a new jury. With only one charge to focus on in a retrial, the prosecution may be able to present more specific evidence and arguments relating to first degree murder.
Regardless of the possibility for a retrial, WJXX/WTLV reports that Dunn is set to appear for sentencing on his four convictions on March 24.
- Jury Reaches Partial Verdict in Florida Killing Over Loud Music (The New York Times)
- Fla. Loud Music Murder Case in Jury's Hands (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Jodi Arias Mistrial: New Jury to Decide Penalty (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Jodi Arias Trial: 3rd Juror Excused (FindLaw's Blotter)