Yesterday, legal observers across the nation were stunned. This was far from expected.
In a Florida courtroom, Michael Dunn was found guilty of the first degree murder of Jordan Davis. The jury had deadlocked on this charge during the original trial, though they ultimately agreed to convict Dunn of attempting to murder the other passengers in the car Dunn had shot into due to a dispute over "loud music". But this time, the jury only took 6 hours to reach a verdict.
Like George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn used Florida's "Stand Your Ground" statute as his legal defense. Ever since the NRA and ALEC began promoting "'Stand Your Ground' model legislation" across the nation, more of these cases have popped up in the states that have adopted this "model legislation". We even have a "Stand Your Ground" case right here in Nevada, as Wayne Burgarello is using AB 321 as his legal defense in his murder trial in Reno.
Wayne Burgarello's next court date is set for October 15. He's been released on $150,000 bail. And he's plead not guilty in the murder of Cody Devine and the attempted murder of another woman at Burgarello's abandoned duplex. Burgarello claims he "stood his ground against trespassers", but Devine's family members say Cody didn't even know the duplex he & his female friend were staying in was Burgarello's.
Many have been wondering how difficult it may be for the Washoe County District Attorney's Office to convict Burgarello, especially considering the "ace in the hole" he has in AB 321. But now that a Florida jury has convicted Michael Dunn for murdering Jordan Davis despite "Stand Your Ground", perhaps there's reason for Cody Devine's family to continue hoping for justice here in Nevada.
Still, it's concerning to realize how difficult it is to prosecute murder cases in Florida, in Nevada, and in other "Stand Your Ground" states. It's hard for us to understand how George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn, or Wayne Burgarello to claim "self defense" in any other capacity. Perhaps the outcome of the Burgarello trial will be more like Dunn's and less like Zimmerman's. Or perhaps, the reverse will be true.
Regardless, we will likely see more AB 321/"Stand Your Ground" cases as time marches on. And going forward, the question for Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NRA) and the Nevada Legislature will be: "Did you agree to 'model legislation' that just let someone get away with murder"?