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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Michael Dunn: `It Was Life or Death`

Aired February 11, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Breaking news tonight. Tears and tension in the thug music murder trial. It`s the moment we`ve all been waiting for. Defendant Michael Dunn takes the stand, and the testimony is explosive. He insists he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Jordan Davis, an African-American teenager police say was not armed.

Today on the witness stand, fiery confrontation between the prosecutor and the 47-year-old software developer who stuck to his story, repeatedly insisting the young victim threatened him, brandished a weapon, advanced on him, even though no witnesses saw any of that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

DUNN: A waking nightmare.

"I should kill that (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

(GUNFIRE)

DUNN: It wasn`t just my life I was worried about.

(GUNFIRE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowing you had shot into a car at four unarmed teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These four shootings in a car that had just threatened him.

DUNN: "I should (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kill that mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

Now he`s screaming, "This is going down now."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Pop, pop, pop, pop."

DUNN: I said, "You`re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were being disrespected by a mouthy teenager, weren`t you?

DUNN: No, I was being threatened. I had no choice but to defend myself.

(GUNFIRE)

DUNN: It was life or death.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell.

The defendant said Jordan Davis flashed a shotgun or some other weapon at him, and he had no choice but to shoot. But Dunn`s testimony today directly contradicts what his own fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, said about what they discussed while driving away from the gas station, moments after he fired his pistol ten times.

Listen to these contradictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you tell her they had a weapon of any kind?

DUNN: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you use the word "gun" with Rhonda Rouer?

DUNN: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When?

DUNN: Multiple times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the defendant ever tell you he saw a gun in that red SUV?

RHONDA ROUER, DUNN`S GIRLFRIEND/FIANCEE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the defendant ever tell you that he saw a weapon at any time in that SUV?

ROUER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no mention of a stick?

ROUER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no mention of a shotgun?

ROUER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no mention of a barrel?

ROUER: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That is a blow to the defense.

After the shooting, the couple spent a night at a hotel. Heard then, on the news that the teen had been killed the next morning. That`s when they heard. Then they drove two and a half hours home, and she says her boyfriend never once mentioned the victim had a weapon.

Will the jury believe Michael Dunn really shot in self-defense?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jordan Davis was never a threat to you, was he, Mr. Dunn?

DUNN: Absolutely he was. From his actions and his threats, sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jordan Davis never got out of that car, did he, Mr. Dunn?

DUNN: Yes, he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What impression did the defendant make on the jury? I know my staff of 12 people, we were all debating it. Completely different takes. Through the eye of the beholder. Will jurors be split, too? Could that set us up for a hung jury?

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to our fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel. We begin with CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin. You were inside the courtroom during these incredible fireworks. How tense was it? Take us inside that courtroom, with the star witness on the stand.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It was so tense, Jane. It`s almost difficult to describe. The courtroom was absolutely packed. The folks like me in the media section, we were literally shoulder to shoulder. Jordan Davis`s entire family is there. They were very stoic.

And when he took the stand, when Michael Dunn took the stand, I can tell you that each and every juror, they were just staring at him when his story began.

I thought that he did quite well on the witness stand. And what is so unusual about this moment that I think everyone needs to realize is that it is so very rare for a defendant to take the witness stand. Either these cases end in a plea, or they don`t testify. Like in the Zimmerman case. Like in the Casey Anthony case.

I will tell you that I think that the prosecution tactical decision not to put his videotaped confession, interrogation in front of this jury really paid off, because we did get to see, first hand, his demeanor, what he had to say right in the courtroom today. And it was very, very -- it was a very, very powerful day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But of course, they played it afterwards, so it as a one-two punch. First you hear him on the stand, telling his story. Then they play, in the rebuttal portion, they play this interrogation tape. And some of the stuff that he says on the interrogation tape contradicts what he says on the witness stand.

But first, I want to go to the emotional high points or low points, whatever you call them. Michael Dunn broke down on the stand a couple of times, sobbing tears. But not when he was talking about the victim, Jordan Davis. Listen, and then we`ll debate it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this dog kind of your guys` child?

DUNN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what was his name?

DUNN: His name is Charlie.

I know she`s heard this out (ph). I know Rhonda. It wasn`t just my life I was worried about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that -- in terms of your mental state, how did you still feel like that, in terms of the -- of (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

DUNN: I mean, it`s now it`s double. It`s not just me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He cried for his dog, Charlie. He cried for his girlfriend, Rhonda, the woman you`re looking at here. But I`ve got to go to Natalie Jackson, criminal defense attorney, former attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family.

He`s only crying when it comes to the people and the creatures he loves. He doesn`t show any emotion, no tears, when he`s talking about Jordan Davis, the teenager. Does this make him seem sympathetic or like a narcissist who -- who really doesn`t have remorse for what happened to Jordan Davis and his family?

NATALIE JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think it seems -- it makes him seem like a person that is -- he testified on that stand that he hopes he got the person that was being aggressive. And he also testified that he didn`t think that he did anything wrong. He took his girlfriend home and said, "We`re OK. We didn`t do anything wrong." He shot someone, and he killed someone and thought nothing -- that he could go home and have a pizza.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to say that, as we proceed throughout the hour, we`re taking your calls. We`re also putting up the grades that each panelist has given both the prosecution and the defense in the questioning of this key, crucial, make-or-break witness, the defendant, Michael Dunn.

Now, I want to go to Adam Swickle. You see him on the witness stand. You gave the defense an "A." You gave the prosecution a much lower grade, a "C." Why?

ADAM SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: OK, first of all, this is not about crying. This is not about pizza. This is about what took place in that parking lot.

The reason why I gave the state a "C," when they were in the Zimmerman case, they are not asking leading questions where they`re going to be testifying. When you are a prosecutor asking, on cross-examination of a defendant, which you very rarely ever get, you have to testify. You can`t give that man an opportunity to explain himself and go over and over again.

He was able to control that courtroom and continue to say over and over again, "I shot in self-defense. I was afraid of my life."

The reason why I gave the defense an "A," is because they were able to exactly what the prosecution wasn`t able to stop. And that was the ability to explain, over and over again. And that`s critical when you`re dealing with a jury in self-defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal Gordon, attorney, you gave the exact opposite grades. You said the prosecution got an "A" for their cross- examination, but his attorney only got a "C." Why?

ADAM SWICKLE: Because any time a defendant takes the stand, or anybody takes the stand, they put their own credibility on trial. And this defendant, no matter what he -- no matter what came out of his mouth, you`re judging him not only by what he says but how he appears, how he reacts. Is his response appropriate? Is he crying in the appropriate places?

People are judging you by more than what`s coming out of your mouth. The inflections in his voice. And they just did not appear to be credible, and when he`s telling the story to a polite audience or a guest type of audience. Whereas the defense has had the opportunity to come out and to expose to the light of day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you agree, Jon Leiberman?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the more that Dunn talked, the more some of the inconsistencies came up. I mean, he essentially gave differing accounts in the letter to his family, in the police interrogation and on the stand today.

That being said, I don`t think prosecutors did a terrific job in showing the pre-meditated portion of this killing. I mean, look, it only takes one juror to really think that, at least for the first one or two shots, that he was somehow in fear. If one juror sympathizes with him, and I think it was pretty clear from his restaurant he truly believes, or he`s talked himself into believing that he was in fear that evening.

Now, a lot of the evidence points the other way, like M.E.`s reports that shows that -- that the victim never got out of the vehicle. And in fact, was pointed the other way when he was shot.

So I mean, there`s a lot of contradiction in this case, and there are a lot of details that you have to look at.

Listen, talk about contradictions. The same Michael Dunn dropped a bombshell during cross-examination, suggesting for the very first time -- this happened a year and three months ago -- but he`s now suggesting for the first time that he may have been shot at by Jordan Davis. The first time we`ve ever heard anyone say anything like that. Even the prosecutor, who was grilling him at the time, seemed shocked to hear this new claim. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn`t shoot you, right? He didn`t shoot at you?

DUNN: You know, if you listen to the video, there is some kind of pop. I don`t know if that was him or somebody else, but...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. Are you telling this jury that Jordan Davis discharged a firearm at you?

DUNN: I have no knowledge of what he did or didn`t do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what a shotgun sounds like, right?

DUNN: Sure, sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not quiet, is it?

DUNN: No, it`s a boom. It`s a distinctive boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so we would have heard a shotgun.

DUNN: You would have, and the pop sounds a little weak. I`m not sure what the heck that is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s not a shotgun going off?

DUNN: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you were not shot at?

DUNN: Well, I don`t know. I`m just telling you what I heard on the audio. You guys will (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(GUNSHOTS)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So there are a whole bunch of pops. Was there a little snap? Was there anything that he was referring to just before the gunshots rang out?

Rolonda Watts, you`ve been following this trial carefully. Michael Dunn is suddenly suggesting on the witness stand that Jordan Davis was shooting at him, which has never come up before. Does this show that this defendant is prone to embellishing and exaggerating and raising doubts about his whole story? I mean, he`s already said several things now that nobody else can confirm: that Jordan Davis had a weapon, that he threatened his life and that he got out of the vehicle. Nobody saw any of that.

ROLONDA WATTS: Jane, listen, you tell one lie, you`ve got to tell five more to back it up. And he`s also raising doubt. He`s playing a game up there on that stand.

And you know, and he`s also a very talky accused murderer. I mean, he is basically throwing out anything. That basically, he`s in a situation where, "Hey, I`m the only one who was there." And it`s the inconsistencies that I think the prosecution should have really hammered in on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

WATTS: He is just blatant in his inconsistencies and blatant in his racist attitude, really, if you look at the letters from the jail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, Adam Swickle, I don`t know about this cross- examination by the prosecution. I mean, it was all over the place. It was jumping from the beginning to the end to the middle. It was fiery, but yelling at the defendant isn`t enough.

SWICKLE: You know, I hate to play Monday morning quarterback. I`m a defense attorney. And I don`t like doing that, but it is the reason why I gave them a bad grade. They don`t seem to know how to control the courtroom and control the witness.

You just played a tape there where the defendant was able to explain whatever he wanted. He was able to say what he felt was going on there, and the prosecution didn`t really have an answer for it. They`re not good at controlling this case, and they weren`t good at controlling the Zimmerman case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re just getting started. We have other fantastic panelists coming up. We`ve got a lot more of this key testimony, both the direct and the cross-examination. Remember, closing arguments are tomorrow. So this is it. This is the case. The crucial, crucial witness. Stay right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now at some point did you also order a pizza?

ROUER: Yes. Because my stomach was in -- so -- Michael thought maybe I just needed to eat something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: I was in fear for my life. And I was probably stunned. I thought I was going to be killed.

I was in fear for my life. It wasn`t just my life that I was worried about, you know?

A lot of things are going through my mind. It`s not just my life, it`s hers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you still in fear for your life?

DUNN: I became even more fearful at that point. I`m not going to forfeit my life to somebody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Boy, he managed to get that line of reasoning in over and over, his self-defense claim. Dunn claims Jordan Davis and his friends had a shotgun, but immediately after the incident he told police it looked like a barrel, then maybe even a stick. Listen to him try to explain that discrepancy as he`s grilled on the witness stand by the prosecutor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you tell the sheriff`s office it was?

DUNN: Told him it was a shotgun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn`t you tell him it was either a barrel or a stick?

DUNN: Yes, I did.

There was no -- no doubt in my mind that that was a weapon. That that was a firearm. The doubt came in when the police started telling me that they didn`t recover anything in the car at the scene. But as we`ve learned, they didn`t check the scene.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Marc Lamont Hill, associate professor from Columbia University, that was a real zinger. He said, "Well, you know, the police didn`t do a comprehensive search."

Now, the detectives mentioned in the interrogation tape that, if there was a shotgun, they would expect him to react the way they did. They say nothing was found.

But after the shooting the teens drove from the gas station to the plaza next door, and we later learned that the cops didn`t check that plaza area for days and never really checked Dumpsters or trash cans. Does that leave a possibility that they could have disposed of a weapon? Does that leave room for reasonable doubt, Mark?

MARC LAMONT HILL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR: No. It doesn`t leave room for reasonable doubt. It does leave room for an excuse for someone who decides on the jury that they just want to let this guy off.

We have seen the prosecution, which is why I gave them a slightly higher grade. The prosecution has brought forth witnesses to offer strong evidence that this kid was a peace maker. That this kid wasn`t violent. That no one saw a weapon. His fiancee didn`t hear -- Michael Dunn`s fiancee didn`t hear a weapon. So this contradiction between what she said and what he said.

To me, this very much comes down to a guy who made a bad decision on a night for whatever reason and now is trying to get out of it. He`s hoping the jury will bail him out the way they did this in the Zimmerman trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Adam Swickle, do you agree?

SWICKLE: Insult to jurors and to our particular system that they`re just going to go ahead and give some excuse and just, you know, throw out any type of conviction that they could warrant under the law.

If you look at the inconsistencies, the defendant did a great job explaining it. It`s the police who caused the inconsistencies. And if you look at his case clearly, they outright lied to him. They specifically told him that just because they had a gun it wouldn`t give you the right to shoot somebody. That is a lie, because they either didn`t know the law or they lied about what the law is, and this man stuck to his guns.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

HILL: But that`s one -- that`s one thing.

SWICKLE: He explained it on the witness stand and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lamont...

HILL: You`re saying the police had inconsistencies, but that`s just not true. There are other inconsistencies.

SWICKLE: They lied.

LEIBERMAN: A major inconsistency.

HOSTIN: Everyone knows that the police can lie to someone during the interrogation.

SWICKLE: Yes, they can.

HOSTIN: It`s perfectly legal. But I think we are...

(CROSSTALK)

SWICKLE: Oh, great, that`s OK.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... everybody at once. Everybody, OK. Whoa, whoa.

SWICKLE: Jane, that`s all right. It`s OK for the police to lie. It`s OK for the police to lie.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go around. Let`s go around.

WATTS: I thought the police were great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did his girlfriend say, and what did the other witnesses say? Basically, it`s going to boil down to what his girlfriend said. Because she was the one in the best position to know. So if you disbelieve everybody else, the police and everybody else involved, you have to believe the girlfriend who`s supposed to be on his side. And she said...

SWICKLE: She didn`t always have an opportunity to see everything.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Guys, I want a debate, but I just want everybody to talk one at a time. So make your point quickly, Adam.

SWICKLE: One point. How can we sit here and say, well, it`s authorized to lie, so the police can go ahead and lie, and then we`re going to blame it on the defendant? Police lie all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do.

SWICKLE: That`s why defendants get off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. Marc -- Marc Lamont Hill. Everybody, please, please. Marc Lamont Hill, go ahead.

HILL: It`s a straw man argument. No one here is disputing the fact that police lie and that police can lie. The point here is that there are other inconsistencies that have nothing to do with the police.

For example, a conversation between the fiancee and Dunn himself about whether they had a gun. That has nothing to do with them. The idea that he heard a gunshot, that he thought maybe he was shot at is absurd and it`s out of nowhere. Another inconsistency that has nothing to do with the police. Those inconsistencies are going to be just as important as the police issue, which ultimately may not become important if the jury doesn`t believe him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS: I think the cops did a great job.

SWICKLE: That`s what happens when you are grilled for hours by liars. You`re grilled for hours by liars, and those things will come out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Adam, I encourage you to jump in. But now let`s hear from other members of the panel. Like Natalie Jackson, criminal defense attorney. Go ahead.

JACKSON: Well -- I`m sorry. I was going to say, Jane, that there are other witnesses in this case. There are independent witnesses that saw the vehicle drive off, that saw a gun that testified. They saw no gun. They didn`t see anyone stash a gun. Didn`t see anyone throw guns out of a building. So to believe Dunn you have to disbelieve everyone else who testified in this case. And that`s the problem that Dunn has.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree with you that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait second, wait a second, wait a second. Sunny Hostin, you know, there`s that type of person who, "Because I said so. Yes, when I say something, you believe it. Because I said so." And he seems to be coming off like that type of person during cross-examination. Your thoughts about that, Sunny Hostin?

HOSTIN: Jane, I didn`t hear the last bit of what you said. But let me say this about the prosecution`s case today.

The prosecution, I thought, was very effective in the cross- examination, pointing out the inconsistencies and laying the ground for the rebuttal case. What we all have to remember is the moments that you saw, let`s say, in "A Few Good Men" between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, where Jack Nicholson says, "You`re goddamn right I ordered the Code Red." That does not happen in courtrooms. It rarely, if ever, happens.

What you do as a prosecutor is you`ve got to know when not to go too far. This prosecutor knows what he`s doing. He knows when not to go too far. And was, I think, fantastic at tying up those inconsistencies in the rebuttal case.

This is all going to be about closing; this case is all going to be about whether or not this jury believes Michael Dunn. I find it very hard to believe, having sat in the courtroom and watched the jury`s reaction to the rebuttal case, that every single juror is going to believe, one, that he saw a gun and, two, that he acted reasonably.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to take a very short break. We`ve got more of this crucial testimony. The phone lines are lighting up. And then tomorrow, closing arguments. Is this going to be a conviction? Is it going to be acquittal? Is it going to be a hung jury? We`re going to ask that question on the other side. Stay right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are familiar with 911, are you not?

DUNN: Yes, I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three digits, right?

DUNN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t call the police?

DUNN: No, never did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called the pizza man.

DUNN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason you didn`t call the police is because you knew you had committed a crime.

DUNN: No, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I said, "Baby, let me give you a hug. Let me give you a hug."

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Defendant Michael Dunn claims 17-year-old victim Jordan Davis threatened his life, yelling, "I`m going to bleeping kill you." But today Dunn testified that Jordan Davis also called him a, quote, offensive word -- I`m just repeating a quote -- "cracker." Something we have never heard before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: Now it got ugly. I heard, you know, something, something cracker. Just...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you actually hear certain words or are you paraphrasing?

DUNN: I heard some things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is the first time in this whole trial we`ve heard anything about the offensive "cracker" comment. Is Michael Dunn embellishing again? Is he perhaps taking a page from Rachel Jeantel`s testimony during the George Zimmerman trial? Or was this Dunn`s way of sending a code to the majority on the jury?

Now let`s take a look at the racial, ethnic breakdown. Five white men, five white women, three black women, two Asian women and one man whose heritage is Hispanic.

I want to go to Chuck Williams, psychologist, because we do know, obviously, this is a racially charged case. Some are comparing it to the Zimmerman case. Do you think that that was a code, by throwing in that offensive -- and I find it a disgusting phrase?

CHUCK WILLIAMS, PSYCHOLOGIST: Of course it was. Let me be very clear. Unlike George Zimmerman, though -- although I don`t agree with George Zimmerman in any shape, form or fashion, I can see when you`re getting your head pounded into the pavement why you may seem like, you know -- you may feel like you need to defend yourself even to the point where it may become fatal, although I didn`t agree with it.

In this instance, this was loud music. This was hip-hop. This was an exchanging of words. The way he acted and the cavalier fashion in which he carried on his life after murdering a 17-year-old human being says to me that this was race based. That Michael Dunn had these psychological concepts in his mind which were mostly negative, these stereotypes about black youth and about hip-hop. And he really went out, in some sense, to kill a black youth that day.

And I think, again, we have to be very careful about this, because if you ignore the racial component, then you miss what`s really important about this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or is he -- and again it disturbs me to say these things but we have to just throw it all out there in a case like this. Were his preconceived stereotyped notions so ingrained that just hearing teenagers play loud music made him jump to the conclusion that somehow they were threatening and therefore, Natalie Jackson, he really felt justified in responding in the fatal deadly way he did?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The reason I asked that is that he does display --

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY: That`s right Jane --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- he does display this bizarre confidence in his story. I mean the prosecution didn`t get him to break down and show remorse say, "Oh, my God." He`s sort like, "Yes, I did it. This is why I did it. I`m right."

JACKSON: That`s exactly right, Jane. In his mind he associated the music, he associated the talking back and the disrespect to him with these must be thugs and of course thugs have guns.

I will tell you one thing about Michael Dunn. And this is my opinion. My opinion is that Michael Dunn purposely courted the Zimmerman supporters. He wrote the letters from the jail. He set up the Web site, "Justice for Dunn". He purposely did that.

And so when he threw out that word today at the trial which is a word he never used in any of his interviews or interrogations I do think he was trying to figure out -- he was trying to spin that out and figure out who - -

ADAM SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What`s the basis for these conclusions?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, jurors have racial bias --

(CROSSTALK)

SWICKLE: What are the basis for these conclusions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. One at a time.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll answer the basis for the conclusion. The word - - that offensive word had never been mentioned. It happened a year and three months ago.

ROLONDA WATTS, RADIO HOST: It was definitely --

(CROSSTALK)

SWICKLE: And he didn`t mention anything during --

WATTS: -- it was a red herring and a code, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

WATTS: It was a code because if you listen to him all day long the thing that stood out to me was listening to this man`s just non-authentic language. He used things like "imminent", he talked about "menacing expression". If that isn`t a signal for that Stand Your Ground Law --

WILLIAMS: I agree with that. He was coached. He was clearly coached.

WATTS: -- I don`t know what is.

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS: And let me tell you this. In his letters -- in his letters from jail, if you look at those letters from jail --

LEIBERMAN: Right.

WATTS: -- numerous times he compares himself to --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to show you those letters --

LEIBERMAN: But Jane, here`s the point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on one second. I have to go to Marc Lamont- Hill, associate professor, Columbia University. I want you to give your final thoughts because I know you have to leave. Our whole panel is staying but I want to talk to you and get your final thought on this.

Don`t go anywhere, the rest of you, we have a lot more controversy -- Marc.

MARC LAMONT-HILL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: This is an amazing guy. He hears things that no one else hears. He manufactures words and conveniently hears these trigger words like "cracker" which again, I also find offensive. He hears things like gunshots. All these things are signals when he uses words like "menacing" and "I was scared for my life". He`s trying to summon that same sense of fear around black male youth and black bodies in public space that happened during the George Zimmerman trial.

This was a smoke signal to jurors. It was transparent. It was clear. And it`s obvious that he`s been coached. And it might work for him. I hope it doesn`t but it might work for him. But this is clearly a case of a guy making stuff up out of desperation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side -- thank you Marc Lamont-Hill -- on the other side we`re going to talk about how the defendant threw his own fiancee under the bus possibly angering the women on the jury and most of the jury is female. And basically implying that his fiancee didn`t even know it was self-defense -- huh?

And we`re also going to read you those letters from jail. We have a lot more. Stay right there. And yes, we will get to your calls. So much to cover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DUNN, ON TRIAL FOR DEATH OF JORDAN DAVIS: There is at least one firearm and four shooters in a car that just threatened to kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four shooters threatened to kill you? How many of the other shooters had guns?

DUNN: I don`t know. But there was at least one gun. And any one of them could have used it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. So they were going to pass it around?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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. Then a red -- it looked like a Dodge Durango. It was like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.

DUNN: I have 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: People who watched the defendant Michael Dunn on the stand today, taking the stand in his own defense in his murder trial are deeply divided on how he came across. That could happen in the jury room, too. Does that raise the specter of a mistrial? Listen and we`re going to debate it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: I had already been afraid for my life. But now the fear was imminent. I was just -- I was just done. I mean, this is serious. And I took him at his word. I mean he`s been telling me he`s going to kill me. He told me I`m dead. And now he`s telling me what`s going to happen now.

I`m not going to forfeit my life to somebody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, some people say he`s confident. Others say cocky. Some say confused or smug. Let`s go out to the phone lines. The very patient Bob from Pennsylvania, what have you got to say Bob?

BOB, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): Hi Jane. I have a comment and a question.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

BOB: My comment is you know, I do agree with him how the police do that sometimes. My question is the police that were there, how come they were -- they were at court testifying what evidence they could find and didn`t find.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you make a good point. I mean this case could all hinge on the issue of weather the defendant saw a real gun or weapon in the hands of that teenager who the police was unarmed. And while the police say there was no gun ever found, unfortunately the devil`s in the details and the truth is that apparently they didn`t a very thorough search of the area for any weapon.

Could that really -- and I have to throw it to John Leiberman -- could that be what gives that little, little flack for people to say "reasonable doubt"?

LEIBERMAN: Look, I have covered hundreds of these cases. You never know what the little nugget that might reasonable doubt is going to be with the jury. Look juries bring their own biases into the jury room as well. I think though that the problem for prosecutors at this point is the first- degree murder charge.

I mean the fact that they are claiming that at some point Michael Dunn made an affirmative decision to commit murder, I could see one juror saying, you know what, the first shot or two he might have been in fear. And if they then, in effect excuse the first two shots I`m not quite sure that they`re going to convict on premeditated first degree murder. Of course --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sunny Hostin, you are shaking your head, why?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I don`t think that really matters because I was in the courtroom when they were going over the jury instructions. These jurors are going to get lesser including so they`re going to get second degree, they`re going to get manslaughter --

LEIBERMAN: That`s what I`m saying.

HOSTIN: -- so even if they don`t find him guilty on first-degree murder he could get found guilty on second degree or manslaughter. And in addition let`s remember --

LEIBERMAN: That was my point.

HOSTIN: He`s also been charged with three attempted murders. And so those if convicted runs consecutively, he`ll be in prison for 60 years just on the attempted murders. That`s still --

LEIBERMAN: Well, that was my point that they have a stronger degree or manslaughter case than they do premeditated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Ok, Natalie Jackson.

SWICKLE: That is still overcharged.

(CROSSTALK)

SWICKLE: Still overcharged.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natalie.

JACKSON: In Florida it takes a moment -- it takes a moment to have premeditation.

HOSTIN: That`s right.

JACKSON: I think if you listen to the prosecution`s theme -- their theme has been disrespect. We heard a witness say that Dunn told -- I mean that Michael Dunn told Jordan Davis "You`re not going to talk to me that way." And I think that their theory is that he meant to shut Jordan Davis up. And that was why he shot at Jordan Davis. And that is the reason if the jury believes that --

SWICKLE: That`s --

JACKSON: -- if the jury believes that, that`s premeditated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Quickly Adam Swickle -- Adam Swickle, your response.

SWICKLE: That`s a large -- that`s a large leap of logic that they want to have taken.

And once again I do agree with Jon. The only thing I don`t agree with is this is not a little nugget. Whether they had a gun and the police officers did a reasonable search for that is not a little nugget. It goes right to the heart of the defense and the law --

JACKSON: That`s a red herring.

SWICKLE: -- of whether or not you can defend yourself. It`s not a little nugget.

HOSTIN: No, no, no, no. What goes also to the heart --

WILLIAMS: -- he never mentioned it.

SWICKLE: You cannot ignore it. You cannot ignore that issue.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jurors in Florida hang your hat on that little nugget. We don`t know. Or will the jury be divided? Will this be a mistrial? A hung jury? Stay right there we have calls and we have so much more -- so much more play for you from today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the shooting, when you came out of the gas station and you got into the defendant`s car --

RHONDA ROUER, MICHAEL DUNN`S FIANCEE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- did the defendant ever tell you he saw a gun in the red SUV?

ROUER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the defendant ever tell you that he saw a weapon of any kind in that SUV?

ROUER: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was loud enough to be thug music, right?

DUNN: That`s what Rhonda characterized. I don`t recall saying that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t recall saying, "I hate that thug music"?

DUNN: No. If I would have said anything I would have called it rap crap. Thug music isn`t a term I would use.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that`s where we got that wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did the defendant say?

ROUER: "I hate that thug music".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She, as you said, was a wreck -- right?

DUNN: Yes, she was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because she knew that you had just fired into a car with human beings inside.

DUNN: She doesn`t understand self-defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoo. That last statement, whoa, is that sexist? She doesn`t understand self-defense. He`s talking about his own fiancee. I wonder how the ten women on the jury will feel about that comment? And I will throw that to a woman on this panel, this jury here. Rolonda Watts.

WATTS: I tell you, this guy gets my blood burning so much. I think you know, what is at the real heart of this whole thing is this man`s whole attitude. What made it so reasonable that he would start this whole chain of action based on what he admits was, in his mind, that these children, that these kids were thugs? It`s an attitude that killed those children as much as the bullet -- that killed that child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have so much to go through. But I want one more caller in. Ronnie, Maryland. What do you have to say -- Ronnie, Maryland?

RONNIE, MARYLAND: I have a lot to say but I only have a couple seconds. I would like to say this, "class act" to all of you. I watched the cross-examination. He used the word self-defense 11 times. I want to say this. Also he said he didn`t -- he said, "I did not know what Jordan Davis did or did not do." What? You`re saying that you`re lying. You didn`t though what he was doing? You said you had eyes on him.

Last but not least -- listen. John Guy has got to instruct the witness to answer the questions yes or no. Ask the judge to say that to the witness. You control the witness. You don`t let him control you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ronnie, I think you made an interesting point. I want to go to J. Wyndal -- I think that a lot of people felt that this prosecutor, John Guy, the same one who was involved with the Zimmerman case let this guy kind of walk all over him.

J. WYNDAL GORDON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I disagree with that. Again, he`s trying to have Dunn have his credibility portrayed before this jury or paraded in front of this jury. This case doesn`t have anything to do with police. It doesn`t have anything to do with what was or what wasn`t said. He shouldn`t have been able to hear anything because the music was so loud.

It has to do with his fiancee. The case will rise and fall off the testimony of the fiancee. If there was such a gun, if he was in such a threat for his life then obviously he would have told his fiancee, hey, get down, they have a gun and then start firing or he would have said something to her while she`s in the hotel room. He never mentions a gun. Forget about the police stuff. It has nothing to do with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal, what you just said was brilliant. The prosecutor didn`t say that. Why didn`t you tell your girlfriend to get down if you thought there was a gun? He`s probably going to say they already drove off. But he -- remember, he shot at them as they drove off and he thought they were going to do blind fire. So she was -- that`s right, he never told her. Hunker down.

More on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: I said, "Can you turn that down, please." Very soon after, I start hearing things like "f" him and "f" that. After hearing "something, something cracker" and this and that I hear, "I should kill that mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: I saw his head over the window frame as he stepped out. And it was at that point where he said, "This (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is going down now." This was like clear and present danger. And I said, "You`re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch." Whatever he threw up against that looked like a gun was a gun.

Over here is my glove box. I`m looking out the window and I said, "You`re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch, and I shot."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Testimony is over. Closing arguments tomorrow. We`ll bring you that completely here tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

But Natalie Jackson, criminal defense attorney, I was shocked that defense didn`t find a way to introduce those damning letters the defendant Michael Dunn sent from jail.

Dunn wrote and it`s offensive but I`m just reading, "The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but people would arm themselves and kill (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiots when they`re threatening. Eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior." End quote -- sounds like a motive right there. Why is it that since we`ve heard character witnesses for the defense, they never got this in there?

JACKSON: Let me tell you, Jane, there was a perfect opening. When Dunn says that he never uses the term "thug", that was the perfect, perfect opening to use that letter on rebuttal and I don`t know why they didn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A big, big, big mistake, Jon Leiberman?

LEIBERMAN: I`m not exactly sure why they didn`t, either, because they had a very strong rebuttal case. They had the fiancee up there. She was extremely strong. The police interrogation videos I thought was strong for the prosecution, so this would have been the icing on the cake.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chuck Williams, psychologist, professor Drexel University, here`s the thing. People are having wildly different responses to this defendant. Some people -- we had a big debate amongst our staff. Some people were like, oh, he`s arrogant, he`s smug. Other people were like, he`s believable. Could we have a hung jury here?

WILLIAMS: You know, I guess if some of them focuses on, you know, behavior and psychological issues. I think part of the challenge is that he has like a flattened affect. He seems like he`s not really engaged, not involved in what`s happening emotionally. There is a lack of reality testing. As I said before he`s way too cavalier and nonchalant about it.

So I think that confuses people. Did that mean he was really frightened? Does it mean it was sort of premeditated as some of the panelists have said he had this idea about going out and harming black -- killing black boys?

I think that is part of the challenge, is sort of determining what was going on in his head. I`m surprised they haven`t done like a psychological or psychiatric evaluation on this guy. I haven`t heard about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, we only have a couple seconds. J. Wyndal Gordon, to me everything is psychology if you identify with this person. For example, there is a could software programmer and a software developer on the jury. He`s a software developer. Are you going to then say, "Well, I can understand him"? If you can identify with him, you don`t understand him -- 10 seconds J. Wyndal.

GORDON: Then you have not discharged your duties as a juror. And I`m hopeful, although this is Florida, but I`m hopeful that they will discharge their duty as they`re supposed to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re done. Tomorrow closing arguments right here.

Nancy Grace is next.

END