|Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Jimmy Ardoin quoted in Associated Press article republished by the San Francisco Chronicle |
Houston trial focusing on stand your ground law
|June 9, 2012 11:58 pm|
San Francisco Chronicle:
When music at a neighbor's evening party got too loud for his liking, Raul Rodriguez showed up to complain, carrying a gun and a video camera.
As a verbal confrontation unfolded, the retired Houston-area firefighter told a police dispatcher by phone that he feared for his life and was "standing his ground," a reference that calls to mind the law at the center of the Trayvon Martin slaying in Florida in February.
The incident involving Rodriguez happened two years before Martin's death and will be decided under a different kind of self-defense doctrine. But it offers another example of how laws governing deadly force are tested in the nation's courtrooms and the many complex legal issues that swirl around each case.
Prosecutors call Rodriguez an aggressor who could have safely left his neighbor's driveway anytime. His defense attorneys insist Texas law still gave him the right to defend himself, even if it meant taking a life.
In a 22-minute video that he recorded that night, Rodriguez can be heard talking to a police dispatcher after walking over to the home of Kelly Danaher to complain about the noise. Both men lived in Huffman, an unincorporated area about 30 miles northeast of Houston.
Rodriguez told the dispatcher he feared for his life. He can also be heard telling Danaher and two other men to keep the noise down. One of the men, who had apparently seen Rodriguez's gun, cursed at Rodriguez and suggested that he was going to go inside Danaher's home and retrieve his own weapon.
But Jimmy Ardoin, another Houston criminal defense lawyer, believes Rodriguez's lawyers have the tougher challenge - convincing jurors that his actions fit any of the exceptions for deadly force under Texas law.
"I'm not sure that if the jury believes he initiated the confrontation, he will get the protection of self-defense laws," he said.
© 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
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