Stand Your Ground? Texas man kills teacher over noise complaint

By David Edwards
Thursday, June 7, 2012 9:37 EDT
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Raul Rodriguez on trial for murder (KHOU)
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A Texas man says he was justified in killing an elementary school teacher over a noise complaint because he was “standing my ground.”

Retired firefighter Raul Rodriguez is hoping that a video that he taped himself will prove that he was acting in self-defense when he gunned down P.E. teacher Kelly Danaher outside the victim’s home near Houston in May 2010.

On the video that was presented as evidence in court on Wednesday, loud music can be heard as Rodriguez tells Danaher to “turn it down.”

“You need to stop right there,” Rodriguez says. “Don’t come any closer please. I’m telling you, I’m telling you, stop, I said stop right now or I will shoot you! … I fear for my life. I told you to stop, my life’s in danger, you got weapons on you, stay away from me.”

While standing in Danaher’s driveway with a flashlight and a gun, Rodriguez is also on the phone with a 911 dispatcher using the buzzwords he learned in concealed weapons class, according to the prosecutor.

At one point, one the men Rodriguez confronted suggests that he will get his own gun: “When I go in that house and come back, don’t think I won’t be equal to you, baby.”

“I’m talking to you, and I mean, I’m scared to death here,” Rodriguez explains to the dispatcher. “It’s about to get out of hand, sir. Please help me, now. I’m standing my ground here.”

Moments later, the video ends after a crack of gunfire.

“This is a difficult defense to mount,” legal analyst Dana Cole told ABC News. “He had no injury, he brought a gun to a noise complaint, and it appeared he was escalating it by baiting the party-goers.”

KHOU legal expert Gerald Treece also questioned the suspect’s motive.

“Nobody’s hold your own ground, or stand your own ground laws are ever on the side of the person who started the fight,” Treece said.

Texas’ “Castle Doctrine” is similar to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law because it says that gun owners no longer have a “duty to retreat.”

In the wake of the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin earlier this year, state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D) warned that the same type of situation was possible in Texas.

“It can happen here,” Coleman pointed out. “The law is the same – the law that protects the guy that shot Trayvon.”

Rodriguez is expected to testify in a trial that will continue through the end of the week.

Watch this video from KHOU, broadcast June 7, 2012.

Watch this video from KTRK, broadcast June 7, 2012.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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