JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A private forensics expert testified for the defense on Monday that a rear passenger door of an SUV was likely open when a man fired into the vehicle during an argument over loud music, killing one of the teen passengers.
Forensics expert Michael Knox, called by the defense as its first witness, contradicted the testimony of other teens in the car who said the victim did not open the passenger door and physically threaten Michael Dunn, 47, in November 2012 before Dunn fired 10 shots into their vehicle, killing Jordan Davis, 17, from Marietta, Ga.
Dunn, of Satellite Beach, was in Jacksonville to attend his son's wedding the night of the shooting. He was convicted previously of three counts of attempted second-degree murder, but the jury deadlocked on a first-degree murder charge for Davis' death.
Dunn could testify in this retrial of the first-degree murder charge, but whether he will was unclear Monday.
Whether Davis opened his door during the shouting match could be a key factor because his attorney told jurors during opening statements that Dunn was defending himself from a "real or perceived threat" of physical harm.
During his first trial, Dunn said he only fired when he saw what he thought was a shotgun in Davis' hand and Davis getting out of his vehicle. There was no physical evidence presented to show whether Davis opened his door, and no evidence that Davis had a gun.
On Monday, Knox said there was no way the first three bullets that struck the SUV, one of which killed Davis, could have struck the back passenger's side door at that angle if it was closed.
Knox said the angle of the bullet entries into the door showed that Davis' door had to be open.
"The only way that happens is the door has to be opened to align those trajectories back to the window" of Dunn's driver's seat, Knox said. "It's not an angle that would align to that front seat."
Dunn testified during his first trial that Davis was getting out of the car when he fired.
"What went through my mind is that this is clear and present danger and I said, 'You're not going to kill me .... I said that as I was retrieving my pistol," Dunn testified previously. "I was in a panic. I grabbed the gun and slipped off the holster and pulled up the pistol and cocked it. I'm just pointing it in the direction of my attacker."
Knox testified Monday that he thought the door was only partially opened. But he also said that Dunn would have had to have been parked much farther away, on a sidewalk, to have fired those first three bullets at that angle directly from his window into the closed SUV back door.
"If you have both front doors aligned . then there's no way those trajectories align without the door being opened to some extent," Knox said.
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