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"Loud Music" Murder Trial Has Reached A Verdict on Four of the Five Counts; Jury Deadlocked On Murder Charge Against Michael Dunn
Aired February 15, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's the top of the hour. I'm Don Lemon. The breaking news coming out of Jacksonville for you. You're looking at live pictures now of the Duval County courthouse. In just moments ago, a huge development there. Jurors in the loud music murder trial sent a note to the judge saying they have reached a verdict in four of the five counts against this man, this is Michael Dunn. But they say they are dead locked on the charge of first-degree murder. Dunn is charged with the murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. After an argument over loud music.
He's also charged with trying to kill Davis' three friends. We have a team of correspondents, legal analysts, guests, we'll give you all the analysis you need starting with CNN's Martin Savidge. We have Sunny Hostin who was there as well. Holly Hughes, Dr. Jeff Gardere and on the phone with us, Mark O'Mara. Sunny Hostin was inside of the courtroom and she said it was very tense in there. It was a packed courtroom. And you saw the Davis family and they looked distraught.
Sunny, take us inside the courtroom and also explain to us the instructions the judge gave the jury and the possible outcome for all of this.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, the jury made it very clear they have reached a verdict on four counts, but they were really dead locked on the first count. And not only the first-degree murder count, as to the death of Jordan Davis but all the lesser included which means they went over second degree murder. They went over manslaughter and they still couldn't reach a consensus. When that happens, when a jury is dead locked, the United States Supreme Court in a case called U.S. versus Allen, explains that a judge can instruct a jury to go back, try to reach a consensus and consider the opinions of your fellow jurors.
And that's exactly what this judge did. The charge was a bit different than the charges that I have heard and that I've experienced in the courtroom, but he basically told them to go around the room, each and every one of them, all 12, and explain the weakest points in their own arguments. And so, I think that's really a fascinating way to do it. The Davis family was very disappointed when they heard that the count that the jury was hang-on was the count related to the death of their son.
I could see them holding each other. Hugging each other, looking down, head bowed. It was a very, very tense moment. Michael Dunn also stood up and looked at his parents. They have been in the courtroom every single day. The spectators are there. The media is there. Even Congresswoman Corrine Brown is in the courtroom. It's absolutely packed. And really almost a collective gasp when they said that they reached a verdict only as to four and not the one which by many accounts is at least by the Davis account is the one that's important to that family because it's related to the death of Jordan Davis.
LEMON: Yes. That's the big charge, Sunny. And so, listen, the bottom of your screen it says loud music, murder trial has reached a verdict on four of the five counts. Let's just be honest here. If this continues to go in the direction that it appears to be going, this is a possible mistrial. Don't miss words here, Sunny.
HOSTIN: Yes, it is possible. It's possible, though, let's make it clear, that there's a mistrial only as to that count. Only as to the first count in connection with the murder and death of Jordan Davis. I will say that I have spoken to folks in the courtroom and it's pretty clear that if they hang on that count, the government will retry the case just for that one count.
LEMON: Sunny, standby. Because I have a very interesting guest on the phone. I'm being told by producers, a jury consultant Richard Gabriel. Mr. Gabriel, when you hear the jury, note that the jury sent to the judge and his instructions back to him, take us inside the minds of the jury right now.
RICHARD GABRIEL, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, what tends to happen in this case is either there's one or obviously sometimes more jurors that are hung in this particular count. When the judge sends them back, that's a dynamite or an Allen charge, which is meant to sort of unlock them and says, look, everybody wants a verdict in this case. And it telegraphs the jury, please try again. But by this point after this many hours of deliberation, quite frankly, jurors are pretty positional. It just has to do with how big the hang is, in other words how many jurors are for acquittal and how many jurors are for conviction on this particular count.
LEMON: So then what happens now in this jury room? That's what everyone is wondering. How can they -- it seems like to be a cut and dry case to most people. You heard what the judge told the jury. He said go back in there and try. I can't tell you what to do and I'm going to ask you to go back in there. I'm going to give you this Allen charge, and go back in there and try to come to some consensus. So, what is happening now?
GABRIEL: Well, what's happening now is they are going back and either one or two people that are either for acquittal or conviction, whoever's basically -- and it sounds to me like there's really only a couple. If they found agreement on most the other charges, for the most part, there are probably only a couple of people or maybe even one person that is hanging on this charge. And basically, they are trying to work it out. Depending upon how deeply entrenched these particular jurors are, it can be -- typically what happens jurors go, what can we tell you? What are the things that you're -- and they ask them to enumerate the reason as to why they are not convinced usually on the conviction. And at that point, it's, you know, I have some doubts about whether there was a gun or you know, they may say, look, I think he may have perceived it and therefore, the stand your ground defense is really where I think it is. And so it's really having the jurors sort of work it out. This is where jury selection becomes important because it has to do with what's the dynamic of those personalities? How are they working together? Whether they are fighting with each other and whether they are being courteous and respectful and just trying to work out sort of their differences.
LEMON: All right. Standby, Mr. Gabriel. I appreciate that. Don't go anywhere. We're going to need you. We want to go to our Holly Hughes, prosecutor, knows all about this. Holly, we have been talking about these particular cases. This particular case you and I on the air. Is this surprising to you that this is happening now after four days of deliberation?
HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: (audio gap) in the beginning --
LEMON: Holly, Holly, Holly --
HUGHES: Yes. Yes.
LEMON: Start over. We couldn't hear you. From the beginning.
HUGHES: OK. It doesn't surprise me Don because they probably took a straw vote in the very beginning and they have been firmly entrenched in their position, whether it's not guilty all the way across the board or whether it's guilty across the board. And so what they have been doing is reviewing the evidence. This is a careful jury. You see it in the questions they are asking. They were so on top of it. One of them was missing one page of jury instructions, but noticed it. You know what that tells me, they read those 40 some pages to notice they were missing that one instruction. So, it doesn't surprise me. It's a little disheartening that they can't agree.
And I want to point out what somebody just tweeted to me saying, this Allen charge was very weak. And that's true. I mean, a judge can drop the hammer. And the Allen charges we give here in Georgia Don basically tells the jury, look, there's nobody better qualified to make this decision than you. You guys heard the evidence. You saw the witnesses. You listened to the testimony. So, get back in there and get it done. But this particular judge gave sort of a very softball version saying, I can't make you do this, but you know, hey, give it one more try. And honestly, I think they are going to go in there and pretty quickly come back out and tell us we are absolutely hung on charge number one.
LEMON: That's interesting that you said that because I thought the same thing. And again, I'm not an attorney, I'm not a legal person.
LEMON: And I said, why isn't he more direct or firmer with the jury saying, I can't tell you what to do, but I'm going to ask you. HUGHES: It could have been a lot more forceful.
LEMON: And explaining that to me, also explain what an Allen charge is.
HUGHES: The Allen charge comes from a United States Supreme Court case and basically it's language. When a jury comes out and says we're hung, you don't just want to throw in the towel at that point. So it is proper and it is necessary for the judge to instruct them. Look you guys, I know this is a difficult thing we're asking you to do. And I know you have worked very hard to this point, but just because you think you're at an impasse, I'm going to tell you to go back in that jury room. And this particular charge said, explain the weaknesses in your argument. Not just point out your strengths. But basically admit to yourself what the weakness of your position is. And then that will open the floor for discussion.
He also pointed out, which I have never heard in an Allen charge, be respectful. Don't interrupt each other. Wait until everybody has had had their say and then discuss it. So, you know, we have also heard reports Don that we could hear yelling coming from the jury room. That you could hear them arguing through the walls. You know, those reports have been coming in. So that tells me, and obviously the judge has heard these reports, this is a feisty jury. And you have people on opposite sides that are butting heads like rams. And that's why I would have liked to have seen a more severe Allen charge.
LEMON: OK. Standby, Holly. Because I want to get back to Mark O'Mara. I have a lot of questions for you, Holly. You're very knowledgeable about this. I want to get back to you so stand by. I want to go to Mark O'Mara now down in Florida. Mark, I understand you want to make some clarification about what's going on.
MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I think it's the opposite and I apologize. It looks as though they would have made a decision on the other four counts that he's guilty of it because that sits in much better with the previous questions of whether or not that's self- defense goes over to self-defense of the other. I was thinking that they were talking about lesser included of the other four counts. It looks like they have made a good decision on all four counts, like it's probably of guilty but they simply can't make a decision on whether or not his action towards Jordan Davis was justified.
And it looks as though they're just going to come back with a hung count on the first count, maybe retried. But let's remember that those other three counts of attempted murder was a fire on carry 20 years mandatory each and under Florida law those are consecutive. So, if he gets guilty on those three counts, that's a 60-year sentence, no time off for good behavior. He has to serve every day of 60 years.
LEMON: Yes. It was concurrent they can all go in one. But if consecutive is going to do 20 and then 20 and 20.
LEMON: OK. Thank you, Mark. And just real quickly, just so our audience understands, what does this all mean? That they can't come to an agreement on count one? Mark O'Mara.
O'MARA: If they don't come to agreement on count one, it's a hung jury. That case, that count has to be tried again. They will pick a new jury, have a new trial, they go forward with the same exact information that they have. But only on the one count. He can still go forward even with his appeal. If the appeal doesn't go forward, then the sentencing on other counts probably sentencing will be delayed on everything until such time they retry the count one.
LEMON: OK. Thank you very much, Mark O'Mara. Can I see Martin Savidge? Martin Savidge is standing outside of the courtroom now. Martin Savidge has been covering this trial since the very beginning. He is there. He knows the emotion. We're going to get to Martin Savidge right after a quick break. Don't go anywhere. There's movement now on the Michael Dunn trial. The loud music trial down in Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. Back with our correspondents and our analysts and our consultants right after a very quick break.
LEMON: Breaking news here on CNN. There is movement on the Michael Dunn trial down in Jacksonville, Florida. He's on trial for the killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis and the attempted murder of Davis' three friends. Back in November of 2012, everyone was at a gas station. Michael Dunn pulls up and didn't like the loud music. The teenagers coming out of the teenager's car. He got into an altercation with them. He said he feared for his life because he said, Jordan Davis, he saw a gun. Pulled a gun on him. No one else has seen that gun. Nobody has found the gun. The gun, not part of evidence because no one has seen it. But he says he saw it and now we have come to a trial with four days of deliberation.
The jury has now said they have reached a verdict on four of the charges, but count one, the biggest charge, the one that's murder for Jordan Davis' life, they can't come to a consensus on that and this is possibly a hung jury, which means a mistrial in part. Down to Florida now. Because nerves are raw not only in Florida but also across the country. This is really become a cause for the community and for folks down in Florida.
Martin Savidge is there, he can tell us about it like no one else can. Martin, go.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right. It has become a cause. This is more than just Jordan Davis the victim and this was in the minds of many people, a murder trial. But it looks like now the verdict that's going to come out of here is not a murder conviction. It is going to be a mistrial on that particular and one very important count. The family has been inside the courtroom. They are clearly looking dejected. Outside here, there are several dozen protesters. They have been here all day. And most of the day, they have just been sitting and waiting for word. Now the word they are hearing of course is unsettling.
So, I think right now the mood you would have to say is frustrated that people here clearly believe that Jordan Davis is not going to get the justice that they felt that he deserved. Of course, if you support Michael Dunn, you'd see things very, very differently. One of the things I should point out is that tomorrow is Jordan Davis's 19th birthday. And his mother, that's Lucia McBath has tweeted out earlier, "I pray we will celebrate not only him but a just and righteous verdict. It does not appear they are going to get that -- Don.
LEMON: He would be 19 years old, unbelievable. And listen, this is Martin such a clear cut case for most people just listening. No one should die for loud music. If you don't like someone's music...
LEMON: ...then you go to another gas station. This is Florida. There's one on every corner. This is not your business what someone else is playing inside of their car. It seems cut and dry. But when you get to the stand your ground law in Florida, that's where the hiccup comes.
SAVIDGE: And you know, we should point out that of course the jurors are only allowed to take in judgment what they heard in the courtroom. And one of the things the defense was very effective at pointing out is that there are some inconsistencies with the state's case. And the biggest thing that they pointed out was, well, maybe there was no gun, at least that's how they began their closing arguments, there was no gun, but the defense came back and said, oh, there was a gun. They just didn't find it. And then they pointed out the fact that authorities did not go searching in the area where the SUV ended up about 100 yards away from the gas station until several days later. The insinuation by the defense was that a weapon could have been tossed and that in the days that it took before the police decided to go look in that area, it could have been recovered, thrown away, who knows what. So it was that seed and a number of others that the defense apparently was effective in planting into the minds of those jurors.
LEMON: Well, that's interesting. Wouldn't the prosecution come back and say, you know, if someone is shooting at you, wouldn't you leave and try to go somewhere else and then once they are gone come back. It seems, you know, should have would have could have, but if you're the prosecution, don't you try to plant that in the minds of the juror?
SAVIDGE: Oh, and absolutely they did. They said, first and foremost, if there was a gun, don't you think they would have used it instead of standing there waiting for their SUV to be rattled by bullets. And on top of that, would they have fled as they did. And then would they have come back just three minutes later if they truly were the guilty ones. In other words, the ones that had a gun that somehow made Michael Dunn feel like he had to open fire. So, that's what the prosecution would say. The reason there was no gun is, there was no gun.
LEMON: Interesting. Martin, the reaction to folks there, you talked about that this has become a cause. But I don't even want to plant this. I'm sure people are upset, but what is the natural reaction that happened once they heard what the jury had just said?
SAVIDGE: Right. I mean, that's the obvious thing I put out there when I talked to people in front of the courthouse. Because all right, say it doesn't go your way, what's going to happen next? And remember, you know, this is not just happening by itself. This is on top of many people who feel dissatisfied of the verdict that came out of the George Zimmerman trial. So, it is now, you know, part two of this. In many ways, a lot of people see a lot of similarities. You have two 17-year-old African-American youths who were killed? It would be, people say, public protest. It would be demonstration. It would be peaceful, but people would definitely want to show what they are unhappy with the verdict that they can't believe could come about. Now, as we say, this could be a mistrial. There could be already convictions on very serious charges for Michael Dunn.
He could be away for 60 years to life basically if he's convicted on the lesser charges. But that's not the same as a man being convicted of murder. And that's not the same as Jordan Davis, at least his family, seeing the outcome they wanted to see, which was a conviction. And then, you know, you've got Angela Corey, she was the prosecutor in both cases, and though politics is not supposed to weigh in to the judicial system, you can bet that there was a lot of political pressure for her to deliver on this case. In fact, there were people holding signs that said "let us win this one, this time" a direct reference back to Zimmerman which they feel it was inappropriate.
LEMON: It just all seems so odd. It's just -- there's something does not smell right about all of this. Especially when it comes to the stand your ground law. Martin, stick by. There's a lot that I want to say, but I'm going to hold back here. Standby here because we're getting a response from Trayvon Martin's family on what is happening down in Florida. I'm going to give that to you in just a little bit. And also the comparisons that have been made to the George Zimmerman trial and what about the jury, the makeup of the jury. Does that have any implication into what's going on down in Florida? We're going to talk about it all, right after this quick break.
LEMON: Breaking news here on CNN. There is movement now in the Michael Dunn murder trial. The murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis and there are other charges on top of that including the attempted murder of three other teenagers here. So, listen, if you're tuned in, I'm going to warn you. If you have kids in the room, you may want to keep them out. Because this is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, it's absolutely ridiculous when you talk about the value of someone's life.
When you talk about -- Paul Callan, listen, I'm going to get to the statement in a moment. When you talk about the value of someone's life, and you can't come to some consensus on whether someone is guilty of murdering a teenager because his music was too damn loud? I mean, that is none of your business. If someone's music was too loud, I mean, you go over, you start the altercation and then you can't deal with it and you decide to shoot someone and all of a sudden, it's someone else's fault that you're on trial for murder? It's absolutely ridiculous. PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I got to think the majority of people in this country are going to agree with you 100 percent, but I'm betting what this jury is probably arguing about is not even the self-defense issue. They are probably arguing about whether -- remember, the first count is first degree murder, premeditated murder. They are probably having an argument about whether he premeditated, whether he plan, whether he thought about it. And maybe some of the jurors have said, you know, something, he decided to do this at the last minute, it's not really premeditated murder. It's second-degree murder.
And maybe they will drop down to the second count. Now I don't know, we're not going to know until they come back to announced it. But that may very well be, because I have to say on the issue of self- defense to think that this is a legitimate self-defense case is ridiculous under the circumstances. No gun found, the guy goes and has pizza at a bed and breakfast, spends the night and doesn't even tell his girlfriend that a gun was pulled out.
CALLAN: You know, it's crazy --
LEMON: Listen, it's either people are saying, Don Lemon is pissed. Yes, I'm absolutely pissed. Because it's none of your business. This is Florida. There's a gas station on every single corner. If you don't like what's happening in that particular gas station, because someone's music is loud, then you move your butt, you know, what, to the next gas station. And get your gas there where you can't hear the music. It's absolutely ridiculous. I think there needs to be a mind your business law that goes along with the stand your ground law.
CALLAN: Well, stand your ground, you know, people have said, well, this is not a stand your ground case. This case is all about stand your ground. Because if this were in New York or any number of other states, you would have had -- he the driver of the car, the defendant in the case could have stepped on the gas and got out of harm's way. He would have retreated with safety. That's called the doctrine of retreat. But Florida says, no, everybody is John Wayne. You can stand your ground. And if you have a gun and you feel threatened, shoot the other guy. And that's exactly what was done here. And it's all about stand your ground.
DR. JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: But isn't it one thing to defend yourself? Even if it were the case he was defending himself, but he shot ten times. So, at some point it became a massacre.
LEMON: If I have a gun in the car and there's a crazy man that comes up to me in the car, I presume crazy. Anyone who comes at me and tells me to turn my music down or whatever, comes up to me in the car and I actually have a gun in the car, you think I'm not going to use it if someone is shooting at me?
CALLAN: Exactly. Of course, you would use it. But he's managed, and I got to say the defense attorney, he put a lot of things on the board here that he got this jury thinking about. LEMON: That's right.
CALLAN: Number one, of course you go to the camera --
LEMON: Before you go to that. Before you go to that, are you saying the prosecution did not do a good job? Because that's what they said in the George Zimmerman trial. And they're going to talk to Mark O'Mara about that in just a moment. He is standing by. But that's what they said and I was there witnessing the George Zimmerman trial. And they said, the prosecution did not do a good job. Is that the same thing in this particular thing?
CALLAN: No. I'm not criticizing the prosecution because I'm going to say something that I shouldn't say as a lawyer when I try to get people to hire me. Lawyers don't make a big difference in a lot of cases. Cases turn on two things. The facts and who gets picked for that jury. Now on this jury, you have two African-Americans sitting in judgment on this case.
LEMON: Jeff Gardere --
CALLAN: You have African-American kids who were shot down and you have a predominantly, it's a plurality of Caucasians on the jury. A lot of them feel this threat whenever black kids come close by playing that loud music.
LEMON: Yes. Hold on. Hold on. Because Jeff Gardere has been trying to get me to talk about this. He goes let's talk about the makeup of the jury. If you're at home, tell your friends and your family, even the people you don't like, they better tune in to CNN right now. Because we are absolutely going there. This is ridiculous. If this turns out to be a hung jury or a mistrial, there will be outrage. I'm just saying, around the country. And I will be one of those people.
So listen, OK, I want to get -- where's jury consultant, Richard Gabriel. Are you there, Richard? Is he there? Richard?
Until we get Richard Gabriel -- get Richard Gabriel on the phone because he's a jury consultant. Let's talk about this.
You brought it up. The jury breakdown: four white women, two black women, one Asian, four white men, one Hispanic.
Richard, what impact does this have on the outcome of this case?
RICHARD GABRIEL, JURY CONSULTANT (voice-over): We'll I'd say actually the racial makeup has less of an impact than whether what I call the fear factor. And I think the African-American women are going to see this differently than the white jurors. The truth is when you're sitting at a gas station and hear loud music from a car and you look over and see four youth, there's a large portion of the white population that does have fear and expectation.
And it's whether that is driving this or not, whether they think that Jordan Davis was the aggressor or whether Michael Dunn was. And it has to do with perspective. That's why I would be interested in -- I know there's a lot behind the closed doors done in jury selection as to how jurors, what their attitudes were about guns, about Stand Your Ground, and what these jurors thought about the Zimmerman verdict. That's more determinative because their race absolutely doesn't form that perspective, but it's really their life experiences and their fundamental believes and attitudes that's driving this jury deliberation.
LEMON: Go, Jeff.
GARDERE: So if it's about the fear, we can theorize that Dunn went ahead and confronted these four black youth. Perhaps was scared to begin with, and therefore felt or imagined that there was a gun. There was no gun. We know there was no gun. So spooked himself, if you will -- no pun intended here -- and did something horrific. Stepped into something he was never prepared to handle, and therefore, out of fear, out of cowardice, murdered.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's why we have diverse juries. We have diverse juries for two reasons. Number one, if you -- I have been looking at the stats of that area. About 30 percent African- American population. Less than 18 percent of the jury picked was African-American. And in jury deliberations, people form coalitions. And it's very hard -- let's assume hypothetically -- and, by the way, for all we know, the two African-American women voted not guilty. We won't know until this is over. But assume they wanted to fight for a conviction. There are only two of them against 10 others. It's very difficult to hold out against such a big group of people. So you need large coalitions of people representing diverse viewpoints in order to get a fair jury.
LEMON: I see attorney, Joey Jackson.
Joey, get up here.
We'll get as many people on the set as possible. Get Joey up here.
Listen, I want to tell you at home, if you're watching this with children, you probably want to get them out of the room. This is something, if you're easily offended, you probably don't want to watch. We're going to go there. When you consider what's going on down in Florida, many people around the country are outraged. What if this turns out to be a hung jury or a mistrial for another teenager who was shot by someone who was invoking the Stand Your Ground rule just because they were offended, afraid or upset by something someone else was doing?
A quick break. Tell your friends and your family, even your enemies, to tune in to CNN. It's like you have never seen before. Coming up on the other side of this break.
LEMON: Welcome back to breaking news here on CNN. Viewers, I'm Don Lemon. I feel your pain. I'm picking up what you're putting down. I feel the same way. I can't believe what's going on down in Florida. But the jury has come back in Florida in this Dunn trial and they have said they have reached an agreement on four of the charges.
But the big charge, the one that has to do with the value of a teen's life, they somehow can't come to an agreement on. Because this guy invoked Stand Your Ground. They sent the judge a note, about an hour ago, saying, hey, we can't do this. We need to see you. The judge told them to come into the courtroom, gave them instructions, and here's that judge just moments ago. And then we'll talk right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSELL L. HEALEY, JUDGE: -- of your note, for the record, indicating that you had reached a verdict on four of the five counts and are unable to reach a unanimous verdict on count one or any of the lesser included offenses related to it. That then, under that kind of a situation and in that circumstance, I am required to read to you an additional jury instruction. I'm going to read that instruction to you now, and then I will provide a copy of it to each of you when I'm finished.
I know that all of you have worked hard to try to reach a verdict in this case to each of the counts. It apparently has been impossible for you so far. Sometimes an early vote before discussion can make it hard to reach an agreement about the case later. The vote, not the discussion, might make it hard to see all sides of the case. We are all aware that it is legally permissible for a jury to disagree. There are two things a jury can lawfully do, agree on a verdict or disagree on what the facts of the case may truly be. There's nothing to disagree on about the law. The law is as I told you. If you have any disagreements about the law, I should clear them up for you now. That should be my problem, not yours. If you disagree over what you believe the evidence showed, then only you can resolve that conflict if it is to be resolved.
I have only one request of you. By law, I cannot demand this of you, but I want you to go back to the jury room, then taking turns, tell each of the other jurors about any weaknesses of your own position. You should not interrupt each other or comment on each other's views until each of you has had a chance to talk. After you have done that, if you simply cannot reach a verdict, then return to the courtroom and I will declare this case mistried as to that count and will discharge you with my sincere appreciation for your services.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You may now retire for further deliberations. And we will provide you with a copy of this instruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was the Judge Russell L. Healey down in Duval County in Jacksonville, Florida.
Ashleigh Banfield is now the host of "Legal View" here at noon eastern on CNN. She also worked for "In Session." She also worked for "Court TV." She knows her stuff. And she has been paying attention to this and covering this on her show here at noon on CNN.
Ashleigh, I don't know about you, I am outraged. You're wanting to talk to me. What do you want to say?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So here's what I think people watching need to know. And I feel your pain, Don, without question. If you were trying this case based on the headlines and the television coverage, it would be a slam-dunk and the guy would be gone for life. If you were in the courtroom and followed it moment by moment without any gaps, it may not be as simple. And that's why I want to bring you into the jury room for a moment. These people were told by a judge, by law, they have to give him, from the outset, the presumption of innocence.
Let's start there, the presumption of innocence. So they are building from there. And to get from the presumption of innocence to first- degree murder and put him away for life is a very, very difficult process for anyone. So if anyone is outraged or angry at this jury for dead locking, if they are so inclined to deadline on that one charge after all is said and done, and then Allen charge maybe doesn't work, we all have to take a deep breath and remember, if you're on a jury and you stare at somebody across the courtroom for an extended period of time, it all becomes far less of a character on television and a narrative where a lot of opinionated people have all weighed in without having sat in the courtroom.
That's where I come from when I cover court. I said at the beginning when I watched him on the stand and watched his entire testimony, it was a game change. Go back and run the tape. I said it's a game change. Not because I or someone else believed it or didn't believe it, but because he brought a story that I know some people could have believed to the stand, and that would have made it difficult to just be a slam dunk.
LEMON: OK, Ashleigh.
Ashleigh, stand by.
Everyone, we get the whole presumption of innocence. I love you. But we all kind of smiled when you said that, presumption of innocence for someone who admittedly went over and shot someone because he didn't like their music
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Listen, Ashleigh lays out the legal principle. That legal principle has to be respected, obviously. Right?
JACKSON: This is a country of laws. And as a result of that, we respect that, and any presumption, we respect, too. At the end of the day, however, the jury has to make a decision. And that decision is whether or not there was sufficient premeditation. And I think, Don, that that's the issue here. When most people think about -- and let's think about first-degree murder. When we talk about first-degree murder, first-degree murder is premeditated. Most people think in common parlance and everyday terms that it's lying in wait. That you have to plan and plot and strategize.
When I can tell you -- and Paul Callan certainly can -- that premeditation can be formed in an instant. What the jury I think was struggling with is that very notion. It looks like they are not struggling. It looks like people are entrenched in their positions because the prosecutor was attempting to say that this is how the premeditation formed. He grabbed that weapon. He pulled that weapon out of the glove compartment.
LEMON: Didn't he go back to get it? Didn't he go back to get it?
JACKSON: No. He was inside the vehicle at the time.
JACKSON: He grabbed it, he pulled it, he unlocked it, in terms of allowing the safety to go off. He aimed that gun, he pointed that gun and he pressed the trigger. And so the issue then becomes is that sufficient premeditation? And if not, then what do we have? Do we have second-degree murder? From the looks of it, it seems like there are jurors, which is not uncommon, that are entrenched in their positions.
LEMON: OK, hold on.
Ashleigh Banfield, I'm sorry. Go ahead. I know that this is your night off. If you have something else to say, go ahead, and then we'll let you go.
BANFIELD: Well, I just wanted to put the thought in the viewers' mind for a moment. If this is about race -- and a lot of people feel this is about race -- if you switch the player's colors for a moment and put a black driver by himself behind the wheel and four sort of very -- you know, four white older teens full of bravado who maybe sling some language that's a little derogatory and maybe frightening, then you might consider that the black single driver could be afraid from the get-go. So if you take it from there, then at least you might be able to gin up a modicum of belief for this defendant's story on the stand. And it's very hard to do this.
LEMON: But Ashleigh, Ashleigh, Ashleigh. Afraid of what? To me, that doesn't make sense. Because if I'm afraid of someone, I'm not going to go near them. If I'm afraid of someone who has their music too loud, or if they are wearing a hoodie or whatever, whatever case you can make up, a scenario I can make up, if I'm afraid of them, the first inclination, my first response is to get away from them, not to approach them. BANFIELD: No, you're right, Don. I say the same thing. Except if my boyfriend is in the convenience store, I'm not going to high-tail it and leave them behind if I'm worried about what these four kids might do.
I'm not saying this is a legitimate thing. What I'm saying is it's a belief that you could understand someone might have. They may not be someone like you, they may not be someone like me, but they may be someone who could have that belief. And that's what --
CALLAN: I'll tell you what happens.
BANFIELD: They have to understand --
LEMON: Open up Paul Callan's mic.
Sorry, go ahead.
CALLAN: If you want to see a case where they did reverse the color, there's a case called the John White case that was tried in Long Island.
You may know the case, Joey.
African-American guy, his house is surrounded by this group of white kids, thugs, who are out to get his son that they have had a problem with. They threaten his son. They then start to enter the house. The guy comes out with a gun to protect himself and he shoots one of the kids. You know what happened to John White? He goes down for murder. Went to prison. Went up an appeal. It was sustained. Eventually, the governor pardoned him because it was obvious he was defending himself. That's a reversed color situation. Because he obviously was in fear of this group.
LEMON: But we keep doing this whole reverse color thing.
CALLAN: So --
LEMON: Listen, I understand that but this whole reverse color thing is -- the fact is, it doesn't matter who the perpetrator was. If the perpetrator is black, if the perpetrator is white, the perpetrator is Hispanic, whoever killed --
CALLAN: It matters in whether the fear is reasonable.
LEMON: Because --
(CROSSTALK) CALLAN: Do you have --
LEMON: Come on. I don't care what color you are.
CALLAN: The law says --
LEMON: If you don't like what someone is wearing, you don't like their music --
CALLAN: Yeah, but that's not what they're saying here.
LEMON: -- it's none of your damned business.
CALLAN: Yeah, but that's --
LEMON: Go somewhere else. Don't look at them. Put some ear plugs on.
CALLAN: You're making an assumption.
LEMON: Of course, I am.
CALLAN: And here's the assumption.
LEMON: And it's a reasonable one.
CALLAN: Well, but that's why we have juries to decide what the facts really were. The defendant in the case doesn't say I shot him because I hate the music and the way they were dressed. He says --
LEMON: Yes, he did.
CALLAN: No, no, his testimony is --
LEMON: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
CALLAN: His testimony is that he saw a gun.
LEMON: OK, yes.
CALLAN: He saw a gun.
LEMON: From the defendant's -- the person who was with the defendant, his fiance said, "I hate that thug music." That's what came from his mouth.
CALLAN: Oh, yeah. No doubt. No doubt he does.
CALLAN: But he's claiming he saw a gun.
JACKSON: The other thing that I think is a bit disturbing to the public in general, if you think about this logically -, and he makes the comment to his girlfriend or what have you, initially upon rolling into the scene, and he sees them. If he's so in fear, why allow your fiance or girlfriend out of the car?
JACKSON: So to the extent that something like this could be prevented in the first instance, I think it --
LEMON: Hold that thought, Joey. We have a long way to go here because we are waiting for the jury that's now being sent back by the judge down in Florida. He's told them to come to a consensus. But if they can't, he says it's going to be a hung jury, in part, right? In part?
CALLAN: Right. He will take a partial verdict, yeah.
LEMON: Yeah, a hung jury. And according to Mark O'Mara, who know Florida law, has dealt with that, he said that could happen within an hour or two, usually, in these cases when you have this Allen charge.
OK, standby, everyone. I'm going to take a breath. We're all going to take a breath.
My thanks to Ashleigh Banfield who came on CNN on her night off to offer us some perspective.
I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Again, this is going to be a point of view here. Not going to sit here and read a run down on camera and say, now let's do this and now let's do this and the jury said this. We're really going to talk about it like adults do, like you do at home. So fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy newscast. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Breaking news here on CNN happening down in Jacksonville, Florida, and that is why you are seeing the live pictures. I'm Don Lemon. And thank you for joining us.
Tonight, real talk. This is grown-up folks' conversation here on CNN. I'm standing my ground tonight. I'm going to give you a point of view. It's not an opinion. It's a point of view. We're getting away from the boring rundown and the teleprompter, and we are going to have a conversation.
My two colleagues sitting here, Joey Jackson and Paul Callan, were having a discussion off camera, but I instructed them, just like the judge in Florida, to have it on television, no holds barred. But my colleague down in Atlanta, Holly Hughes, is so impassioned by this she is jumping at the screen. I'm being told, especially about my conversation with Ashleigh Banfield, and whether you are afraid of someone whether you approach them or you do.
HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: OK. Don, he pulled into the spot. Then the SUV pulls in and he makes a comment about the music. There was testimony in the trial that there were multiple other spots open at the gas station. If you are so offended by the music, back into another spot. This entire situation could have been avoided by employing common sense. That is all there is to it. It did not have to happen.
And, you know, let's talk about this Stand Your Ground law. I mean, good god, just because you think that somebody might possibly have a gun, you get to blow away a teenager? And by the way, risk the lives of the other three in that car? This was absolutely avoidable. And I think that you should talk about that.
LEMON: Holly -- Holly, here is my thing. At the bottom of it, who the hell do you think you are?
LEMON: Who do you think that you are --
HUGHES: It's the arrogance.
LEMON: --that you can go -- go on.
HUGHES: Well, it is arrogance, Don. But it is backed up by the law, because if you tell them that, I had a reasonable fear and I thought that I had a gun, that you can then get away with it. That is what -- Florida has got to do something, and they have to look at revamping this law, because how many kids have to be shot and killed before we finally say enough is enough, you guys?? You can't just make up a story. There has to be some evidence to back it up. And clearly somebody on that jury thinks that it is possible. That is a bad sign.
Now I think that given the questions, Don, I think that they are probably going to be coming back with the guilty on the ones they have decided on, which is great, because you are looking at the 60 years. And it is a question of intent. He did not ever say that any of those other young men had a weapon, a knife, a pipe, a shotgun, nothing.
LEMON: All right. But, but, but, hold on, hold on, hold on. I have to get to the break, or the computer will cut us off.
We will be right back and we are not going anywhere. The jury is now -- they have more instructions, and they are weighing it again down there in Jacksonville, Florida. I have to take this break. I'm sorry. It will be a short one. I'll see you right after. Don't go anywhere else.