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Young witness recalls Cape Coral day care shooting

Nov. 14, 2012
Robert Dunn
Robert Dunn / file photo


Near the end of a long day of emotional testimony involving gunshots, blood spatter and frightened toddlers, a 15-year-old took the stand Wednesday in Robert Dunn’s murder trial to testify to her recollection of the final moments of a Cape Coral woman’s life.

Dunn, 48, is charged with fatally shooting his estranged wife, Christine Dunn, 36, at Bobbie Noonan’s Child Care on Jan. 25, 2008. He faces the death penalty.

Morgan Hunter, 11 at the time of the incident, told jurors how she hid in one of the facility’s bathrooms with Christine Dunn and several young children, including 2-year-old Allyson, Robert and Christine Dunn’s daughter.

“He looks into our bathroom, where Ms. Christie’s at, and he turns around and extends his right arm and fires,” Hunter said. “When the first shot is fired, she looked surprised and she’s still standing when the second shot is fired. She fumbles and goes toward the wall and extends her hand and slowly falls to the floor.”

Robert Dunn was then pulled out of the bathroom by Hunter’s mother, Louise Zoller, but came back and patted Christine Dunn’s chest and pants pockets before leaving, she said.

The next moments appeared to be Christine Dunn’s last.

“It took a little bit, but she eventually stopped breathing,” Hunter testified, noting that several of the children were covered with Christine Dunn’s blood.

Wednesday marked four weeks and a day since jury selection started. Prosecutors and defense attorneys called 440 potential jurors before settling Wednesday morning on a 12-person jury — required for capital cases — and three alternates. The group included 10 women and five men.

During opening statements, defense attorney Tracey Redd told jurors the state could not prove the shooting was premeditated, a condition necessary for first-degree murder, which is punishable by death.

“This is not (a case) of clear and convincing evidence,” Redd said. “This case is about accident, struggle, unintentional acts, confusion, chaos and misinterpretation.”

Robert Dunn has previously asserted the gun accidentally went off while Zoller struggled with him for control of the weapon. He also has blamed the incident on contentious divorce proceedings.

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Zoller, who also testified Wednesday, telling the court she watched Robert Dunn shoot his wife twice before she was able to knock the gun away from him and bring it to police, who had converged outside.

Redd and David Brener, Robert Dunn’s other attorney, made a point of forcing each witness to admit they had not actually seen the gun as the fatal shots were fired.

Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr, in her opening statement, described how Robert Dunn purchased the 9 mm gun four days before the shooting, picking it up from the pawn shop the day before. Doerr said Robert Dunn searched for his wife in the day care center before purposefully shooting her in the neck and chest.

“We believe at the close of the case the evidence will show that you have been sitting in court all week with the man who murdered Christine Marie Dunn,” she said.

After the day’s testimony had wrapped up and jurors were sent home, Robert Dunn and his lawyers had a lengthy discussion with Judge Margaret Steinbeck in which Dunn once again entertained the idea of representing himself.

“He was just, I think, frustrated, at the end of a long day, with some of the testimony and some questions that he wanted asked,” Brener said afterward.

“It’s not seriously going to happen and I believe a lot of this is as a result of the fact that he suffers from mental illness,” he said.

Return to for updates as the trial continues Thursday.

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