By Deb Alberto
For Hometown News
Satellite Beach resident and software engineer Michael Dunn is standing trial in Jacksonville for first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
The network media has a habit of turning tragedies into circuses, and I learned to ignore them after watching trial coverage of the George Zimmerman case.
Having worked as a legal investigator and covering crime and courts in my long career as a journalist, I've seen a lot of tragedy and witnessed injustice in many forms, but I will submit that things are never as black and white as the talking heads on HLN News Network would have you believe.
According to public records and witness interviews, Michael Dunn was an outspoken gun advocate, who always carried a pistol in his glove box.
Jordan Davis, his 17-year-old victim, was shot dead inside the red Durango where he was a passenger.
It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the young man, who was homeschooled before attending Wolfson High in Jacksonville, and who'd never been arrested, had just left the mall with his friends.
It was an altercation over loud rap music, which ultimately led to the 10 shots Dunn fired into the Durango.
We may never know for sure whether Dunn had any reason to fear for his life that night, but records show that no weapon was ever found in the Durango and there were no drugs or alcohol in Jordan's system, according the medical examiner on the case.
Instead of calling the police after the incident, Dunn left the scene and went back to his hotel, where he ordered a pizza, then drove back to Satellite Beach the following morning.
The actual words exchanged between the two of them may never be fully known, as is often the situation in cases like this, but Dunn repeatedly told police investigators that he feared for his life.
Now, I'm not a gun advocate, nor am I opposed to responsible gun ownership. I guess I fall somewhere in the grey. My father is a hunter, and he taught me to shoot a gun before I learned to drive a car. But, he also taught me that if I don't have anything nice to say, I should say nothing at all.
Dunn admitted to police that he could have kept his mouth shut, and yet insisted he was polite when asking the young men in that car to turn down the music.
We may never know why Dunn took on a "Wild West" persona, pulled his handgun from his glove box and fired the 10 shots into the SUV that left a young man dead.
But, what we do know about Dunn is that he doesn't seem to see the grey.
Letters he wrote from the Duval County Jail shed light on a man, who may have very well been in fear, but that's more than likely because he associated rap music and young black men with what he deemed a "thug" culture, rather than entertaining the thought that they had a simple difference in musical tastes.
In a letter to his grandmother sent from jail, Dunn wrote "I'm not really prejudiced against race, but I have no use for certain cultures. This gangster-rap, ghetto-talking thug 'culture' that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable."
So, Dunn contends he isn't prejudiced against race, but cannot tolerate certain cultures.
That's part of being human, but it doesn't justify murder. In 1999, a road rage incident resulted in a man pointing a gun at me in a convenience store parking lot.
It scared me, but I didn't fight. I drove away. If only Dunn had done the same.
Deb Alberto lives in Melbourne with her old dog, 'Tyson,' and her two cats, 'Frisco' and 'Cali.' She is currently working on a novel, completing a Master of Fine Arts at Florida International University and thinking way too much about everything.