Shooter and family of slain teen settle civil lawsuit a month before criminal trial

The man accused of shooting and killing a Jacksonville teen during an argument about loud music has settled civil lawsuits with the victim’s family and the families of other teens in the car at the time of the shooting. Michael Dunn has settled lawsuits with the parents of Jordan Davis and two other teens in the car when Davis was killed in November 2012, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Davis and the others had their music turned up at a Gate gas station when Dunn and the teens got into an argument, the newspaper reported. Dunn shot into the vehicle several times, killing Davis, the newspaper reported. Dunn has said all along that one of the teens pointed a gun out of the car, but police have said there were no weapons found.

Among the claims of Davis’ parents was that Dunn contributed to their pain and suffering by suggesting that Davis was violent, the newspaper reported. The monetary terms of the settlement were not made public. It is rare that civil suits would be resolved before the criminal trial. Typically, these cases play out after the criminal trial – partially because a criminal conviction can be used to bolster the civil case. But, in this Jacksonville Murder Case, the chronology is less important. First of all, the civil settlement CANNOT be used in Dunn’s criminal trial in his Jacksonville Murder Case. One thing it could do, since the case has been covered extensively by local, state and even national media, is confuse potential jurors about Dunn’s guilt, but that could be sorted out in jury selection. Another reason the timing doesn’t matter is that Dunn has never denied shooting into the car, has never denied that he was the one that killed Davis.

The criminal issue in this Jacksonville Murder Case is whether or not Dunn acted in self-defense, and that will be the crux of the criminal trial scheduled to begin Feb. 3. The issue will be whether jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunn fired into the car on his own and was not defending himself from the shotgun he said he saw out the window of the vehicle. While there is always hesitation to admit any wrongdoing in advance of a criminal trial, there could be a variety of reasons to wrap up the civil case early. Dunn’s finances have been contested from the start of the case – his criminal defense attorney has asked the judge repeatedly to order the state to cover investigative costs – so that could be a factor. Another could be to get the dispute with Davis’ family cleared up so they are more likely to be on board with a plea agreement for Dunn if there is one in the works. Regardless of the reason, the criminal trial is sure to get plenty of media coverage in this Jacksonville Murder Case. And while readers and viewers will know the civil cases have been settled, jurors will not. And that’s what really matters in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Murder Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.