TV host Jane Velez-Mitchell has probably seen and heard it all by now, on her self-titled HLN show. The anchor is on top of trials, murders, the law and justice, or in many cases, when there’s been a miscarriage of justice, as in the Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman trials. The Tom Joyner Morning Show asked Velez-Mitchell for her take on the recent trials and why things have gotten so out of whack for young Black men in the Florida court system.
TOM JOYNER: I‘ve watched you and I know you talk fast and you don’t give a person a chance to get in and ask questions so I’m just going to ask all my questions at once and just let you go. OK, so the three jurors that found him [Michael Dunn] not guilty, did they think it was an accident, self-defense or what? And why did the [Stand Your Ground] law work for George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn but did not work for Marissa Alexander? And the letter Dunn wrote to his sister why wasn’t that admitted and why didn’t the prosecution play the race card?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here’s my theory and I’m not a lawyer, but I have done a lot of therapy and I think a lot of lawyers, especially prosecutors should go on the couch, or at least take a psychology course, cause you can’t just hit a bunch of jurors with facts. You’ve got to hit them in the heart and you’ve got to hit them in the gut. I think they could have done more to humanize Jordan Davis, the victim. They really didn’t. We saw a defendant who looked like a choir boy or a businessman, he was either wearing a business suit or he was wearing a sweater, taking a page from the Menendez brothers. We never got to dirty him up.
The prosecution did not dirty him up in any way so why would a choir boy suddenly open fire? The fact is, that this guy has troubles. He had no relationship with his son, the one who’s wedding he was going to before the shooting. You go to a wedding he had a least three, possibly four, rum and cokes, plus a toast, so he’s buzzed on alcohol. He leaves early, probably the reason why, he’s estranged from his son, he sees him three times in a decade. So he’s kind of deadbeat dad. So all this emotional turmoil coming up inside him while he’s acting happy – oh, let’s get another bottle of wine – right at the gas station where the shooting occurred. Suddenly the loud music comes on, triggers all the inner turmoil he’s feeling plus his racial animus, which we know he has from the jailhouse letters, and then a young teenager doesn’t respect him and mouths off and boom, an explosion, a rage, all the frustration and anxiety that he’s feeling from the wedding, from the booze, from his racial animus, explodes. And Jordan Davis drove into the gas station on his worst night. This guy is a powder keg. I think if they had said something like that, we would have at least gotten inside his head.
SYBIL WILKES: So why didn’t they do that?
Jane: I think if you look at the tapes, the prosecution was wooden. It was one-dimensional and also, the defense put the prosecution on the defensive. It was as if Jordan Davis, the victim, was on trial the entire time. It was all about what Jordan did or did not do. Why is that? It should have been about what Michael Dunn did or didn’t do. So the defense comes on strong – Jordan had a gun, Jordan threatened his life and Jordan tried to get out of the car. Three things that were virtually disproven at trial. It’s kind of like politics. Whoever frames the debate wins. And we’ve heard that in the [political] strategizing that if you don’t frame the debate, you’re always on the defensive. And that’s exactly what happened here.
Sybil: What happens to Angela Corey and the prosecutorial staff in Florida now?
Jane: We all goof up. We all make mistakes and I’d hate to say somebody should lose their job. But I kind of did after this. But it’s more than one person’s job. This is about America, and this is a very important test and this goes beyond race. Are we going to become a country where any petty argument can turn into a deadly confrontation? We’re seeing that trend. Remember the guy who is texting during the movies and he gets into an argument with the retired cop sitting behind him and he blows him away? I don’t want to live in that world. This could happen to any of us.