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Conviction on Lesser Counts in Florida Case of Black Teen Killed by White Man


In a U.S. court case with racial overtones, a Florida jury has deadlocked on whether a white man is guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a black teenager during an argument over loud music.

But the jury did convict 47 year-old Michael Dunn on three counts of attempted murder for shooting into a car of African American teens outside a food store in 2012. Three of the teens were not hurt. Seventeen year-old Jordan Davis was killed.

The judge declared a mistrial on the most serious charge of whether Dunn meant to kill Davis.

It is unclear if Dunn, a computer software developer, will be retried on the murder charge.

Dunn faces at least 60 years in prison when he is sentenced later this year.

Dunn and the teenagers argued over whether the youths were playing a radio too loud in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida store in 2012.

Prosecutors said Dunn was angry because he believed the teens were showing him disrespect by playing what he called "thug music."

Dunn testified that he opened fire at the car in self-defense because he saw a gun. Police say the teens had no weapon.

Howard University political science professor Michael Fauntroy tells VOA the verdict is more evidence for some people that you can kill a black man and not be held fully accountable for it.

"It's also about the fear that some people just have viscerally about the mere sight of black men -- always under suspicion, never given the benefit of the doubt."

The case comes just seven months after another high-profile Florida case in which white suspect George Zimmerman was found not guilty of gunning down 17 year-old African-American Treyvon Martin during an argument in a residential neighborhood.

The two cases have raised questions about race relations in the United States and Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law.

The law gives people the right to use deadly force to defend themselves instead of making an attempt to run away from a dangerous situation, such as a heated argument.

Again, Professor Fauntroy:

"I think the Florida Stand Your Ground laws makes it easier to kill people with impunity. But it's not just Stand Your Ground. It's the ability to easily have a gun. Florida is one of the more lenient states in the country."

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