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Defense in `Thug Music` Trial Pins Blame on Victim

Aired February 7, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Breaking news in the thug music murder trial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just heard gunshots at the gas station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring help. Please now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone got shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was coming from over by the gas station. And then a red -- it looked like a Dodge Durango. There was like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.

MICHAEL DUNN, ON TRIAL FOR SHOOTING JORDAN DAVIS: I`ve never been so scared in my life. That`s when I reached in my glove box, unholstered my pistol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard about nine shots.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That boy`s mother wept in court today, as her son`s friend described the bullets that pierced their SUV, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

The murder trial of software developer Michael Dunn heating up tonight with his hyper-aggressive defense attorney trying to trash the African- American victim. Watch the scene unfold in real time from inside the convenience store as the deadly shots ring out in the parking lot right outside.




SMITH: To my right, behind me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you on the sidewalk by this time?

SMITH: Yes, ma`am.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, somebody`s shooting!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s day two of the prosecution`s case, but the defense`s blame-the-victim strategy is in full gear. Today, the defendant`s attorney aggressively grilled victim Jordan Davis`s three friends who were with him that night.

First up, Tevin Thompson, who was sitting right in front of the victim in the red SUV. Listen as the defense attorney clearly tries to paint the 17-year-old victim as a thug.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t it true that Jordan Davis said to you, "(EXPLETIVE DELETED) that (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Turn it back up."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t it true you were watching things escalate?

THOMPSON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s because of Jordan Davis` behavior, isn`t that true?

THOMPSON: Yes, sir.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Will the defense attorneys` combative style backfire on him? Dunn insists he shot in self-defense after being threatened and seeing a shotgun or stick. Cops say the victim didn`t have any such weapon.

But the defense is pushing another theory, that the victim`s friend dumped that mystery weapon, and police were either too lazy or too incompetent to find it.

Straight out to our fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel. Tonight, I want to start with Areva Martin, attorney out of L.A., are we already seeing cracks in the prosecution`s case with this theory-aggressive, hyper- aggressive defense attorney, or is this defense attorney a bully whose rough tactics will backfire?

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: I don`t see any cracks in the prosecution`s case, Jane. I see the prosecution very competently displaying what happened that night with these four young men, you know, in their car. At least the three once in the store.

But whatever was escalating in that vehicle, Dunn didn`t even hear it. He had no access to what was going on in the car. And these men are so articulate. They`re so calm, and they`re telling a consistent story that totally contradicts anything that Dunn is saying about feeling threatened.

There`s just no way he could have felt threatened in any shape, form or fashion that justified his shooting of Jordan Davis. There`s no gun. There`s no stick. There`s nothing in that vehicle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I see what you`re saying. But Michelle Suskauer, this defense attorney is saying, well, there is a gun. Even though nobody ever found it. But oh, it was discarded and they didn`t look. I mean, he`s also really hammering home on the back end that the victim used the "N" word, used the "F" word. What do you make of it?

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s right. Well, first of all, Jane, I disagree with you. I don`t think that he`s being hyper- aggressive, overaggressive. He`s doing his job. He is trying to save his client`s life, basically. And he needs to hammer out at the credibility of the kids that were in that car. They`re the ones who were there.

And you know what? He made some headway here. Because it`s important that the jury hears that they`re not just calmly sitting there; they`re not doing anything. That they were using bad language. And everything was getting -- sort of moving in that direction, where it was getting more aggressive. And it talked about also the window being down a little bit.

And really, it`s a question of whether or not it was reasonable for Dunn to feel that he was -- his life was threatened, or his life was in danger. And so I think it was moving in that direction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you`re saying that he is not that aggressive. Let`s listen a little bit more.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The defendant said the victim threatened him. And that the defendant claims he saw a shotgun, or something else, maybe a barrel, maybe a stick.

And he claims that the victim opened the door. And there`s no evidence of that, because when the bullet holes went in, the door was shut, OK?

So let`s listen to this exchange and debate it on the other side.


DUNN: And he goes, "You`re dead, bitch," and he opens his door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is it possible that you can testify to this jury that Jordan Davis didn`t try to get out of the car? He`s sitting behind you in a chair.

THOMPSON: Because if he would have tried to get out of the car, he would have been out of the car, sir.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, that was a very clever response, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. That young man, a friend of the victim saying, hey, if he had tried to get out of the car, he would have been out of the car.

But yet the aggressiveness with which the defense attorney is creating these scenarios, these hypotheticals -- "Oh, he tried to get out of the car." Well, the evidence shows the car door was shut when Jordan Davis was -- was hit.

Why is the prosecution doing more to shut down these hypotheticals by the defense?

MURPHY: Well, look, there`s only so many ways to get that evidence in. We know from Dunn`s own statements that he said the victim was getting out of the car and that he saw a gun or a stick. Whether that`s credible is really the issue.

And so far, we have all the prosecution witnesses saying, no gun, no stick, no getting out of the car. So it`s a good day for the prosecution.

The only thing, the only thing that the defense has going for it thus far is the possibility of engaging the jury to feel something like the defendant might have felt. If you can get one juror to say, "Geez, if that were me, loud music, being told `I`m going to kill you, bitch,` somebody potentially shooting a gun at me or aiming something that looked like a gun at me, maybe getting out of the door, would I have shot if I had a gun?" That`s all you need for reasonable doubt. I don`t see it yet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the night Jordan Davis was shot dead outside the convenience store, he was in this red Dodge Durango. You`ll be seeing it over and over again, with his three buddies. Now today, all three of his friends took the witness stand for the prosecution and testified their friend did not have a gun. This is the defendant`s gun. Did not have a stick. Had nothing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you aware of any weapons of any kind in the Durango that evening?

THOMPSON: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody pick up a shotgun from inside the car and take it out?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody pick up anything, to your knowledge, from that car and take it out, other than the body of Jordan Davis?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have any weapons of any kind in the Dodge Durango?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: David Otunga, attorney, here`s the gun that Michael Dunn used to shoot a 17-year-old. Yet, it seems the focus in court is not on this gun, the one that was clearly used, but on some imaginary gun that the defense may have cooked up out of thin air to try to justify this killing. Should the prosecutor do more to shut down these highly speculative theories?

DAVID OTUNGA, ATTORNEY: Definitely. I definitely think they should. Because right now, what they`re doing is creating reasonable doubt. They`re asking all these questions about this hypothetical gun. That`s going to make the jurors question, "Wait, so was there a gun? Is there something we don`t know?"

Because then they point to the fact that the car drove off and then came back. And he`s trying to point out that they could have ditched the gun. So it seems entirely plausible.

But all of this, what it`s doing, it`s confusing the jury, but more importantly, it could create reasonable doubt.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And remember, this is the prosecution`s case. The defense case hasn`t even started.

OTUNGA: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You saw a second ago a four-inch knife. Well, it turned out that the victim had a knife in his pocket, which the prosecution described as a pocketknife. The defense blew that up into a tactical weapon and showed that it had a four-inch blade, David Otunga.

OTUNGA: That`s true. But what you have to remember here is Michael Dunn says that he saw a gun, or a barrel. He saw a shotgun or a barrel. He didn`t say he saw a knife. So whether they had a knife in the car is kind of irrelevant. Because that wouldn`t have promoted him to get a gun. He didn`t see a knife. Now, if they had a gun, OK, we understand, because that`s what he said he saw. But he said he saw a gun, but there wasn`t one found.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, there`s a lot of gray. Now, what I find fascinating and a little upsetting is the entire focus of this trial has been on the character of the victim. What about the character of the defendant?

Now, just before the shooting began, defendant Michael Dunn and his girlfriend had been at his son`s wedding. A son he hadn`t seen for five years, by the way. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Michael had a few drinks there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think he had more than three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he ever drink to excess?






VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. There`s the defendant`s girlfriend saying, "Oh, I don`t think he had more than three drinks at the wedding." OK?

She also admitted to cops he sometimes drinks to excess. Dunn himself told cops he had a DUI in his late teens, early 20s. Dunn told the cops before the shooting he had one rum and Coke plus one little toast at the wedding.

So Joey Jackson, I speak as a recovering alcoholic with 18 years of sobriety. Exhibit A, after he gets back to the hotel, prosecutors says he orders a pizza and drinks a big rum and Coke. Why did they stop at the convenience store in the first place?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: To get a bottle of wine. Is it fair to ask, are we getting the whole story about how much Dunn had to drink at the wedding or whether he gets angry when he drinks or might he have a drinking issue?

JACKSON: Well, I think it`s a wonderful question, because it goes to his state of mind and whether or not he acted reasonably under these circumstances.

And just going back briefly, Jane, to these threats. There`s this loud music; things are pumping. But he hears these threatening gestures made? I want to know how.

In addition to that, he was opening up the door. That is Jordan Davis is opening up. The trajectory clearly indicates that the door was not open.

And so all this goes back to whether or not the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances, or whether this is some story that he had to tell in order to exonerate him of this particular offense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go to the phone lines. Carla, Illinois. What do you have to say, Carla, Illinois?

CALLER: Hi, Jane, thanks for taking my call.


CALLER: I don`t get why they`re not trying to call this a race case. I think that the defendant profiled these boys. I think, because of their music, because of their appearance, because they were black, they had loud music, the windows were tinted and everything, that he thought that he was threatened. I don`t know why his life was threatened, he was so scared because they were black. And so he decided to shoot them. Why aren`t we calling this a race case?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Areva Martin, attorney out of Los Angeles?

MARTIN: I think we are calling it a race case, and we`re watching this case very closely because of the racial implications. Even what we`re calling it, the thug murder case. You know, that "thug" word is often, you know, code word for the "N" word. So I`m very disturbed how we`re even describing this case. And I think it has tons of racial implications that are being explored.

And I think it`s causing us to have a very important discussion about African-American males and how they`re treated in the criminal justice system and how they`re seen by white men such as Michael Dunn.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side, we`re going to analyze the surveillance video from inside the convenience store. Why does Michael Dunn`s girlfriend go toward the gunfire?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be very clear that Mr. Dunn acted responsibly, and as any responsible firearm owner would have acted under these same circumstances.

DUNN: And he goes, "You`re dead, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I said, "Baby, I want to give you a hug. I want to give you a hug."

He said, "Mom, I`ve got to go."

"Let me give you a hug." And that was the last time I saw him.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, somebody`s shooting. Somebody`s shooting out of their car.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s fascinating to me is that the cashier, if you see her, she`s terrified. She ducks down. Dunn`s girlfriend looks around, and then she walks toward the door, i.e., walking toward the gunfire.

Now, I`m wondering, Wendy Murphy: she knows her boyfriend owns a gun. They go practice shooting at a range. Moments earlier he had told her he hates that thug music. He had had some drinks at the wedding. Could she have immediately known, "Ah, my boyfriend Michael did something"?

MURPHY: Well, you know, maybe the real explanation is that she`s not that unfamiliar with guns, and it didn`t freak her out the way it might for most of us who aren`t around guns. No, because it`s also come out that he wasn`t a particularly aggressive guy generally.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no, no, hold it.

MURPHY: And by the way...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to jump in here. Because that is -- that`s the image that has been painted. And while the defense is doing everything to destroy the image of the victim, the prosecution is doing nothing, it seems, to tatter the image of the defendant thus far.

MURPHY: But Jane...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is going to happen.


MURPHY: My point is very simple. Can I just make my point?


MURPHY: Can I make my point?


MURPHY: My point is very simple. I don`t care if he has a history of being a responsible gun owner or not. Here`s why he cannot win this case, period, no matter whether he`s a good character or not. It`s not possible that he saw a gun, and even if he did, you still can`t shoot eight times, which he did.

And if these kids did have a gun, do you think they`d drive away or pull the trigger? It makes no sense. It`s a bunch of nonsense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle Suskauer.

SUSKAUER: And what I`m saying is, you know, in terms of what the state`s going to do, and what the state`s going to do, assuming Dunn`s going to be taking the stand, is that that`s when they`re going to tear him apart. They`re trying to focus and trying to build up the credibility of their particular witnesses at the time and make sure that they`re consistent as possible. That`s why the defense is doing everything they can to attack that credibility.

In terms of his girlfriend walking toward the car, I mean, I just -- I don`t know whether that`s really an issue or relevant or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s going to be highly relevant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no, here`s my point, Joey Jackson. We have sort of bought, automatically accepted this idea that, oh, Michael Dunn was a very peaceful guy until this happened. He`s, you know, a software developer. Nothing to see here; nothing to see here.

But as I said, as a recovering alcoholic, I found it significant that he had, according to his girlfriend, three drinks at the wedding, then goes to buy wine. Then after leaving, without calling police, goes and drinks a rum and Coke. I see that as, I know people`s personalities change when they drink; they become angry quite often.

JACKSON: Absolutely, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what I`m saying is why are we just -- where is the prosecution`s case?

JACKSON: Well, let me say this, Jane. His time will come. Just put it that way. There will be an opportunity, either when he testifies, or at some later time throughout this trial where his credibility will indeed be put in issue.

In addition to that, his credibility is already being put in issue based upon his conduct, or you could say irresponsible conduct in terms of what he did here.

Last point: to your question in terms of the girlfriend walking forward. Certainly, that can be something that`s argued. She heard him talk about -- that is, Michael Dunn, about the thug and the music. She knows he`s a gun owner. She presumably knows he has a weapon at the time. She`s in there. And you could certainly make the argument, as you did, Jane, that she`s going to check on her man as a result of what she thinks may have occurred.

And I would be surprised if that does not come out at a later point.

MURPHY: Jane -- Jane...

SUSKAUER: This trial is not about her conduct, it`s about his conduct.

JACKSON: But it goes to the state of mind.

SUSKAUER: Well, but it doesn`t go to his state of mind.

It`s a major issue because it goes to the state of mind and whether he...

JACKSON: Of course it does.

SUSKAUER: Not necessarily.

OTUNGA: I have to agree with Joe Jackson on this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, David.

OTUNGA: I`d have to agree with Joe Jackson on this.

MURPHY: You don`t think it doesn`t...

OTUNGA: I think it does go to his state of mind. Because if she`s running out there, to see what he`s doing, clearly she knows, OK, he had a few drinks, or you know, he`s irritable. Or maybe he`s done things like this in the past. We don`t really know too much about it. So I think that definitely could go towards his state of mind.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Areva Martin, here`s my point.

MARTIN: Can I make a comment?


MARTIN: I want to make a comment about the three young men that testified. You know, we made a big deal about the young people that came forward in the George Zimmerman trial. Those young people were trash. I think these young people that testified today deserve a lot of credit. They were poised. They were composed. They were articulate, and their stories were -- you know, they confirmed what we`ve known about this case all along, which is that Dunn had no justification for shooting Jordan Davis.

And I just think these three young men, you know, teenagers, acted so responsibly, even though the defendant tried to suggest that they did something wrong by leaving the gas station and then coming back. These young men acted admirably under tremendous pressure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve all got so much to say. Take a short break. We`re going to be back with more on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gunned down by a man who didn`t like the loud music that my son and his friends played in their car.

DUNN: Hearing the heavy bass. But it really wasn`t just the issue of loud music; it was an issue of them threatening me.




RON DAVIS, FATHER OF VICTIM: The first words out of the doctor`s mouth was, "I`m sorry, Mr. Davis, I tried to revive." And that`s all I know he said. That`s all I heard. And after that it was just chaos in the room. I must have -- I must have been making sounds that were so foreign to the people that were in the room, the chaplain started crying.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Devastated father of the victim speaking there.

The defendant, Michael Dunn, insists the young man, Jordan Davis, pointed a shotgun in his direction. Even the prosecutors call that a big lie, even though the cops never found any weapon in the car or the surrounding area.

You`re looking at, well, essentially the area where all this happened. And there`s the gas station. There`s the plaza. The defense insists when the teens fled the hail of bullets and went next door to the plaza, that`s where they dumped this mystery weapon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are Dumpsters and garbage cans and things like that for these businesses?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t recall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you do any type of search of that area?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you ordered to do any search of that area?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever hear any orders go out from any sergeants to search that area?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, here`s a photo of the gas station and the next-door plaza. The defense insists cops didn`t search the plaza next door for days. And that they`re saying essentially, David Otunga, that that was ample opportunity for them to dispose of this hypothetical mystery weapon, which the defense -- the prosecution says is an imaginary weapon.

But here`s my point. This is the prosecution`s case. At this stage of a slam-dunk case, this should be a slam-dunk for the prosecution. And watching this hyper-aggressive defense attorney, I forget at times it`s the prosecution`s case. I think it`s the defense`s case.

OTUNGA: That is true. The defense attorney is doing a good job of taking the focus. I mean, this is a clever argument, but what the prosecution needs to establish is, hey, these kids were getting fired upon. They drove away to avoid all this.

Now, another thing is, if the kids were really -- let`s say they had a gun and they were going to go and they were going to ditch it. Why would they just drive over, ditch the gun and then come back and park in the same place? Why wouldn`t they have just fled altogether? They would have been able to go wherever and ditch it far away. So that`s why this argument doesn`t quite make sense to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. But I don`t hear the arguments within the courtroom. What I hear is the defense making all these arguments.

And I feel like the prosecution`s reaction, Joey Jackson, and correct me if I`m wrong, seems a little flat footed. I don`t care whether you have to use sarcasm, whether you have to ask a question that the defense -- objection! You get in the idea that this is bogus some way, somehow.

JACKSON: Understood, Jane, absolutely. But fear not yet, because ultimately, there`s a long way to go in this particular case.

And back to Wendy Murphy`s point, in the event that they did have a gun, certainly you would argue or think that they would have used it. If I was being fired upon, I would have fired back.

And to David Otunga`s point, you`re going to just ditch the weapon right there? It doesn`t certainly make sense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re counting on the jury to do the math and connect the dots.

JACKSON: In closing argument, though. Right, I understand, Jane.


MURPHY: Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Wendy.

MURPHY: Jane -- Jane, what you`re really asking is that, for somebody to fix the frustration in the room when the defense gets to make stuff up, right? So it would be great if we had a rule that allowed the prosecution to say, "I object! Stupid argument!" But you can`t do that.

However, believe me, the jury is taking it in. This is just like a Plan B suspect. Like O.J.`s "The boogieman killed my wife." We never found the Plan B suspect in his case. You never find the boogieman in all the other cases. This is like a Plan B suspect case, only they`re blaming it on the gun that doesn`t exist. Don`t know how this happened, even though it`s frustrating...


SUSKAUER: Jane -- Jane, you`re saying that the defense is making stuff up...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s like the George Zimmerman case. It`s the same people who lost the George Zimmerman case. Which was also described as...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... at the beginning. Go ahead. Somebody. Areva.

MARTIN: I`m listening to this prosecution, and I`m hearing the prosecutor ask the witnesses over and over again, was there a gun? Was there a stick? Was there anything pointed out the window at Dunn?

OTUNGA: And the answer was no.

MARTIN: And they`re consistently saying, no, no, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Michelle.

MARTIN: There was no gun, there was no weapon, there was no stick, there was no nothing.

SUSKAUER: OK, listen, I want to tell you something, though. But by the police not doing the job that they were supposed to do and be as thorough as they should have been, this is a big, big problem for the state. Tremendous problem.

MURPHY: No, it is not. That`s ridiculous. Even if there was a gun, you can`t shoot eight times. This is not a big problem.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to go to a break and we`re going to be back on the other side. We`ve got calls. I`ve got more examples of, is the defense exploiting the gray areas?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they saw Mr. Dunn reach for the gun, everybody in the vehicle ducked. Tommie Stornes ducked. Trevor Thompson ducked. Leland Brunson ducked. You know who didn`t duck? Jordan Davis. Do you know why he didn`t duck? Because he was getting out of the car with a weapon.




CORY STROLLA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL DUNN: Isn`t it true that the music was so loud, that the windows and mirrors were vibrating in that SUV?


STROLLA: Isn`t it true the music was so loud, you could not hear everything Jordan Davis said?


STROLLA: Is it possible Jordan Davis threatened Mr. Dunn and you didn`t hear it?

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Objection -- calling for speculation.



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: An objection by the prosecution -- that, I like to hear. But we`re not hearing it enough, in my opinion -- the defense exploiting the gray areas here. For example, and I`ll throw it to David Otunga, the music`s blaring, he gets the witness to say, oh, I couldn`t hear everything the victim Jordan Davis said. So, well, is it possible then that you didn`t hear him threaten the defendant? Because the defendant says that`s why he shot Jordan Davis.

This guy is exploiting, it seems to me, the gray areas.

DAVID OTUNGA, ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, the defense attorney is definitely exploiting the gray areas. But that`s the prosecution`s job to then come back on redirect and to kind of hone in on these points and make it clear for the jury. I agree with you, I don`t think they`re doing a good job of that and they`re kind of letting the defense run away with this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I think, personally, the defense is running away with it a little bit. Michelle Suskauer, what do you think?

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, ATTORNEY: Well, you know, I`m not offended that -- exploiting the gray areas? You know what -- if there are gray areas in the state`s case, then they have a big problem. And they`re not going to be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is what the defense lawyer is supposed to do.

If there are gray areas and if there`s reasonable doubt, this jury needs to come back not guilty, whether you think so or the rest of the panel thinks so or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excuse me, there`s a lot of gray areas.


AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: Can I address the music so loud issue? Can I press the music so loud?


MARTIN: If the music so loud that the passengers in the car can`t hear what`s being said how can someone outside the vehicle --

JOEY JACKSON: How does Dunn hear what`s said? That doesn`t make sense.

MARTIN: -- then hear say that there`s a threat being made. The person next to you can`t even hear it. The story is ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But wait a second, isn`t that the very kind of thing that the prosecution should bring up some way, somehow on redirect? Well, wait a second -- ok here`s the question.


MARTIN: -- be patient, Jane. You`re going to hear it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh yes, be patient --

JACKSON: It`s coming.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, let me do this again. Can we put up video --

MARTIN: Trials are not lost or won in one day. They`re not lost and won in one day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa, the same team that lost the George Zimmerman case. Ok. Angela Corey and John Guy, wonderful people, I`m sure. But my confidence level in their ability to handle this kind of extraordinarily cagey defense attorney, frankly --

JACKSON: But Jane --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- go ahead.

JACKSON: There`s major distinctions between this case and the Zimmerman case. Yes, there are similarities -- ok.


JACKSON: However, there was no fight here. There was no one on top of another person such that you can make the legitimate claim that I`m in imminent fear for my life. Number two --

SUSKAUER: But you don`t need to have that -- you don`t need to have a physical fight --

JACKSON: No. Michelle, I`m not --

SUSKAUER: -- to make that claim of self defense. You know that. You know that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold it. Hold it. Let him finish.

JACKSON: I`m not suggesting you need to have a physical fight. But clearly, you can`t be in the other car, have a window rolled down and say, are you talking to me? Really? It doesn`t work that way, Michelle. There had to be imminent fear.

SUSKAUER: A window rolled down you can`t even see --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time.

SUSKAUER: I agree with you Joey.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time.

SUSKAUER: Joey, I agree with you. This is not the same case as the Zimmerman case. This is a much tougher case to sell to a jury. But what I`m saying is there are some problems with this case, that the state if they`re not going to address them, they`re going to lose this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I say -- they`ve got to be addressed. Wendy.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I just want to be very clear here. The things that are gray don`t matter. But the job of the defense is to distract us with the dog-and-pony show. Oh, we don`t know for sure whether the window was open or down, or he could hear the threats. It doesn`t matter because there is no evidence, period, anywhere that this guy was really afraid that there was a gun in that car. It`s a lie.

And if I were this prosecutor in this case, I would have charged him with a hate crime. Because it`s clear this guy was scared of the black boys. And that`s the theme in this room that`s going to carry this case even if Angela Corey doesn`t show up. She`s going to win.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All they need is one. All they need is one.

MARTIN: I got to part ways with Wendy on that. I think what we learned from Zimmerman is that claim on the sympathies on white George with respect to the fear of black does work in America, unfortunately. I get really nervous about that, Jane. But I hope that --


MURPHY: Let me ask you something. Shouldn`t the jurors --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time.

MURPHY: -- the jurors should have been screened that if they carry that kind of racism, they should not be sitting on this case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well A -- it is a diverse jury.

MARTIN: In a perfect world, they should be screened. But that doesn`t happen in reality.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But people don`t admit their biases.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And psychologists will tell you that.

MARTIN: That is true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: People go into an office and say they have no biases when they do. It`s the last thing people will admit to.

MURPHY: But that`s not how you screen jurors. You don`t say to a juror --

JACKSON: But Jane the one thing is this --

MURPHY: Are you racist? Because they say no.

JACKSON: However --

MURPHY: You don`t ask them directly there are other ways to screen and we know how to do it and I hope that happened here --

MARTIN: But we can`t be oblivious to the role of race in the judicial process and how jurors use race to find fault or not find fault depending on who`s being charged. We saw that in Zimmerman. That could happen again in this case.

JACKSON: Fair enough. But the law requires --

OTUNGA: And the question is how is the Zimmerman case going to affect the jury in this case.


OTUNGA: I mean both cases were in Florida --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it right there. Fantastic panel -- this has been an incredible debate. And we`re going to have to see what happens.

We`re going to be over this -- all over it, every single day until its conclusion.

Stay right there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m excited to say Monday night, HLN premieres a brand-new show that features the best web videos of the day, before they go viral. See them here first, right this minute, starts Monday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Check out this clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Cole (ph). He is a U.S. Marine. He had just returned from an at-sea period. His wife Kelsey has surprised him with a little packet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attached to the note?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Just take it out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch as he pulls this package out of this envelope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s sure is not going to fit him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re absolutely right, Steven. That is a onesie. And what we can`t see is on the front of that onesie, it says "Daddy`s Hero".





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This amazing marine`s wife surprised him with this just as he is about to leave on deployment. Now the great thing, the baby is due the same month he is due to come back from his deployment, April of 2014.

But the best part of this video is Cole -- the dad-to-be`s reaction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. No way. Woo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can`t control his emotions. It`s so fantastic to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like he just scored a touchdown.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s "RIGHT THIS MINUTE" debuting Monday night at 10:00 p.m. on HLN.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, somebody`s shooting. Somebody`s shooting out of their car.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Defendant Michael Dunn on trial for murder, claims the 17-year-old that he shot dead threatened him first, yelling, "I`m going to bleeping kill you." Prosecutors acknowledge the young victim, 17-year- old kid, was yelling at Dunn, was dropping "f" bombs, but insists he never threatened him.


GUY: Jordan Davis was upset, no doubt. He was cussing, no doubt. He raised his voice. But he never threatened the defendant.

STROLLA: Jordan Davis threatened Michael Dunn, "You`re dead bitch." "You`re dead bitch. You`re dead bitch. This is going down now."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It seems to me Areva Martin that the defense in using these phrases that the prosecution says is made up. You`re dead "b" word, are really sort of painting the victim with a brush, tarring him with this suggestion that he`s a thug. He`s a kid who`s never had any problems, never been arrested. He has no history of problems.

And yet, with this one phrase, that the prosecution admits he used the "f" word, and who hasn`t, it`s almost as if that becomes code for him being a bad kid.

MARTIN: And we saw that, Jane, in the Zimmerman trial, playing on the jury, to some extent there are any jurors sitting there with any racial prejudices, playing on that by again trying to paint this young man as if he is, as you said, a thug.

But the defense is going to have to prove now that these things happened. So this "you`re dead b" we heard the men testify who were in that car and we didn`t hear them say that that was ever mouthed out of the -- you know, Jordan Davis never used those words. How are they going to prove that Jordan Davis used the word "you`re dead b."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But do they have to prove that?

MARTIN: It`s not evidence. They have to come forward with some evidence. Opening statements are not evidence, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Michelle --

MARTIN: It`s just a story of the defense attorney.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- your response to that?

SUSKAUER: Jane, the defense has to paint the victim as an aggressor. They have to -- to sell the defense of self-defense. And they have to be able so that the jury -- without saying to the jury, put yourself in the shoes of Dunn, which they can`t say -- they have to basically imply that.

Come on this is reasonable that this was going on --

JACKSON: However ---

SUSKAUER: This was happening over seconds --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joey Jackson, last word, ten seconds.

JACKSON: However, sticks and stones may break my bones, but names shall never harm me. So in the event that he did say it words without conduct to establish that you mean the threat, do not establish self- defense -- period.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Wow. What a case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for pet of the day. Send your pet pics to

Kekoa, you`re a surfer dude. Surf`s up. And across the pond in London, oh, we`ve got London. Maybe she`s not actually in London -- but very, very international. Konan, you are just the cutest little thing. Look at that smile. Yes, you`re happy. And Waldo, oh, you`re intelligent.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a race against time to save Sochi`s dogs. As the Olympic opening ceremony gets under way it is open season on thousands of strays wandering the city streets and they`re being rapidly, cruelly exterminated. Backwards, brutal Russian policies are calling these living, breathing, intelligent creatures biological trash.

I warn you, this is very graphic, disturbing video. Look at this poor dog. He`s been poisoned, and he`s not the only one. There are thousands, ok, being poisoned like this. Animal lovers outraged the world over are now shining a spotlight on this dark and deadly side of the Sochi Olympics.

The man who runs the company hired to kill these dogs called them biological trash.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rico and Cabo say we are not biological trash. We are priceless fellow earthlings. Listen up, Russia, respect the animals.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have got some news for Putin, my dogs aren`t biological trash, and the dogs of Sochi aren`t either. Now, a kind-hearted Russian billionaire is frantically setting up a shelter for these animals but it`s a race against time. The saddest part is that these kinds of backwards policies exist the world over. Instead of spaying and neutering dogs, they just let them breed out of control and then go out and shoot them.

Straight out to my special guest, Nick Paton Walsh senior international correspondent on the ground in Sochi, Russia. I know this is a very busy day. Thank you for joining us Nick. What is happening to these dogs right now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did see them when we arrived here, quite substantial numbers around town not different from what you would see in most developing or less capital- like Russian cities around here.

Remember, you know, outside of Moscow, St. Petersburg, the big cities, often Russia is less developed than parts of Europe so stray dogs often part of culture here. But since we`ve been here, the numbers do appear to have gone down in some ways. It`s hard to tell exactly if this is part of a policy or simply the fact that more tourists have moved in and they moved back to the outer reaches of town.

But when we heard the fireworks go off today during the opening ceremony, that was met with a substantial howl, series of howling from some the dogs in the neighborhood here. Hard to tell often though if these are actually owned by Russians and not kept in the greatest condition or, as you say, stray themselves.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you are looking at video of this makeshift shelter that was created in a frantic race against time to save these animals. And I understand, Nick, that a lot of them were stray because they leveled a whole bunch of homes that had yards and they stuck people in apartment complexes where it was harder to have dogs, so that just totally catapulted the stray dog population out of control, and it makes sense to me. You know, that`s how it goes. Let`s just raze everything, who cares what the consequences are for people or their beloved animals. Let`s make this a bright, shiny object, these games.

I mean my gosh, the amount of controversy that had surrounded these games, the brutality with which many sectors have been approached from people who are out gay to stray dogs. Don`t they get it? Doesn`t Vladimir Putin get it that the real problem isn`t the stray dogs. The real PR problem is having a backward, brutal attitude toward the stray dogs -- Nick.

WALSH: What you have to remember though is an awful lot of Russians kind of like that. You know, this country has had chaos since the collapse of the Soviet Union and chaotic towards the end the Soviet Union too. So when Putin came to power, it was after Boris Yeltsin, you remember he liked his vodka (ph) occasionally.

Putin was a breath of fresh air. He was in control. He`s put the economy back on its feet, and, yes, there`s not a lot of political freedom here, and a lot of that is translated into policies like rounding up stray dogs like that. But that in some way appeals to Russians who dealt with so much chaos, so much instability.

Now there`s a back side of that coin. A lot of people here would like to be a little freer in their lives and perhaps, yes, have their dogs protected better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I believe that love of animals is a universal concept. I don`t blame the Japanese people for what`s going on at the cove. I blame the people killing those animals. I don`t blame the Russian people. I know that there are good-hearted people everywhere in the world.

What I say is you, animal lovers watching at home, let Russia know. Let Vladimir Putin know this is unacceptable, ok? I`m not going to Russia anytime soon. I`ve always wanted to go to St. Petersburg. I have always wanted to visit, but with the policies they have, I am not going. And that`s the message we have got to send. You want our dollars? Change.

Nancy is next.