Life sentence for US man who shot teen over loud music

Defendant Michael Dunn reacts on the stand during testimony in his own defence during his murder trial in Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida in this photo taken Feb 11, 2014. Dunn, who fatally shot a black teenager during an argument ov
Defendant Michael Dunn reacts on the stand during testimony in his own defence during his murder trial in Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida in this photo taken Feb 11, 2014. Dunn, who fatally shot a black teenager during an argument over loud music, was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.-- PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (AFP) - A Florida man who fatally shot a black teenager during an argument over loud music was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old white man, was convicted Oct 1 of first-degree murder in the death of Jordan Davis, 17, in November 2012.

The case has been widely followed in the United States, which has been rocked by a series of racially tinged shooting incidents in recent years.

"I truly regret what happened," Dunn said in a short statement he read to Davis's family in court.

"If I could roll back time and do things differently I would... Still, I'm mortified I took a life."

At his trial, Dunn said he approached a group of teens in a sports utility vehicle and asked them to turn down their music, but they refused.

Dunn said he feared for his life when one teenager started to get out of the car and approach him. Dunn pulled a pistol out of his glove box and opened fire.

"To lose a child is a parent's worst nightmare," Judge Russell Healey said prior to sentencing, according to the Florida Times-Union.

"Mr Dunn, your life is effectively over. What is sad is that this case seems to exemplify that our society seems to have lost its way."

In addition to the life sentence, Davis was also sentenced to 105 years for having shot at the three other teenagers.

At his trial, the software engineer testified he kept firing as the teens' car drove away, saying he was afraid that he or his fiancee - who had rushed out of the gas station shop when she heard the shots - might get hit by returning fire.

"He wasn't shooting at the tyres. He wasn't shooting at the windows. He was shooting to kill, aiming at Jordan Davis," prosecutor Erin Wolfson said during closing arguments.

Police found no evidence of a gun in the teens' vehicle, and the three surviving teenagers testified that they never threatened Dunn.

The case recalled another high-profile killing that sparked outrage over racial profiling and lax US gun laws.

In Florida in 2012, white neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old black teen Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman was controversially acquitted of murder, claiming self-defence under Florida's "stand your ground" law.

In August this year, unarmed black teen Michael Brown, 18, was shot by a white police officer, sparking days of sometimes-violent protests in a St Louis suburb and igniting a national debate on race relations.

Dunn was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder last February, but a racially mixed jury was deadlocked on the more serious first-degree murder count. He was convicted at a retrial on Oct 1.