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Prosecutor to blame for Zimmerman, Dunn verdicts

Viewpoints Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 01:02

Fifteen months ago, a Florida man was in a convenience store parking lot, and a Dodge Durango carrying four black teenagers was blaring loud music next to him.

Michael Dunn chose to park next to this vehicle, but his patience had run thin with hearing “rap crap” as he liked to call it, so he asked them to turn it down.

When they declined, which may or may not have been in a threatening manner, Dunn reacted like a psychopathic criminal who deserves to be in prison, pulled out his handgun and fired a barrage of rounds into the vehicle.

Ten bullets to be exact, and one of those proved to be fatal for Jordan Davis, a passenger in the SUV.

Dunn went to trial for the violent outburst, and Saturday the jury finished deliberating. He was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder, but the jury didn’t convict him for the murder of Davis.

The jury was hung, so he wasn’t acquitted and there may very well be another trial.

In the past seven months two different men have not been found guilty of murder related to their roles in killing black teenagers in Florida. The first was George Zimmerman and now it’s Dunn. The commonality that stands out is prosecutor Angela Corey overcharging each defendant with crimes for which she can’t make the case.

Unlike Zimmerman, Dunn was actually found to be somewhat culpable for his actions and faces a lengthy prison sentence, regardless of what happens with a future retrial for the murder. He won’t be making headlines for allegedly pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend or selling personal artwork on the Internet. Nor will he sign up for a celebrity boxing match.

Even with Dunn behind bars though, did Davis ultimately receive justice?

The answer is unequivocally no, and the person to blame is Corey who for whatever reason can’t perform the duties of her job and secure convictions when black teens end up dead.

The comparisons to the Zimmerman case are easy to make. Both happened in Florida and involved armed men killing unarmed black teenagers. The prosecution was ineffective and the Sunshine State’s wildly libertine self-defense laws entered into the debate after each verdict.

However the differences in the two cases are what make the Dunn verdict even more harrowing.

The events that spurred Zimmerman to fatally shoot Trayvon Martin are clouded at best. We know Zimmerman followed Martin and this led to a physical confrontation.

At some point Zimmerman deemed it necessary to use his handgun and Martin wound up dead. Corey pursued a second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman and he could have ended up behind bars for manslaughter, which has a lower threshold for determining intent to find someone guilty.

On the other hand, in the Dunn case we know a jury determined there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunn attempted to murder the three survivors of his vicious outburst.

Although we may never actually know, the jury may not have been able to figure out whether or not the murder was planned in advance, which was what Corey determined Dunn did. The jury didn’t fully buy her case.

If a prosecutor is going to charge someone with first-degree murder, the onus is on him or her to prove premeditation. This is how Corey failed the Davis family and the people of Florida.

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