A Texas jury rejected a retired firefighter's claim that the state's stand-your-ground law gave him the right to shoot and kill an unarmed neighbor for allegedly playing loud music during a party.
Raul Rodriguez's defense attorney argued that his client is protected by the so-called Castle Doctrine because the altercation that resulted in the shooting death of 36-year-old elementary school teacher Kelly Danaher took place in the street.
"He had a right to be (in) the street," said Neal Davis. "He was not provoking anybody. He was not engaged in any criminal activity. The (stand-your-ground) law is not only for home invasions. That's why the law was changed."
Indeed, the Texas version of the controversial law allows for the use of deadly force in self-defense outside the home, but cannot be used as a shield if the person using force provoked the attack.
Prosecutors Kelli Johnson and Donna Logan maintained that Rodriguez was the aggressor when he armed himself with a gun and a camera and headed over to Danaher's home to complain about the noise.
In the footage he recorded, Rodriguez is heard telling a police dispatcher his life was in danger, but Johnson said it was Rodriguez who "lured" Danaher and two others onto the street "and threatened them by brandishing his gun."
"Raul Rodriguez is a neighborhood bully who had a CHL, an arsenal of weapons and a knowledge of the law," said Logan. "He felt he had the ultimate control, the control to decide who lives and who dies."
The jury sided with the prosecutors and voted to convict Rodriguez of murder. Sentencing will take place following additional testimony.
Houston criminal defense attorney Grant Scheiner said the Castle Doctrine might be clarified as a result of this trial — particularly "what it means to provoke someone" — but no major changes to the law should be expected.
[photo via AP]