HOUSTON — A Houston-area man was found guilty Friday of murder for killing his neighbor during an argument over loud music.
The Harris County jury deliberated two hours before rejecting Raul Rodriguez's self-defense claim under Texas' "stand your ground" law and convicting him in the 2010 death of 36-year-old elementary school teacher Kelly Danaher, who was having a party at his house.
Rodriguez recorded the confrontation on his cellphone in video that was shown to the jury. Rodriguez's attorneys argued that he feared for his life and killed Danaher in self-defense.
In the 22-minute video, Rodriguez, a retired Houston firefighter, can be heard telling a police dispatcher he had called that "my life is in danger now" and "these people are going to go try and kill me." He then said, "I'm standing my ground here," before shooting Danaher.
Prosecutor Kelli Johnson told jurors that Rodriguez started the confrontation when instead of calmly asking Danaher to turn down the music he armed himself with a handgun and a camera and proceeded to harass people at the party. Rodriguez lured and provoked Danaher and two other men to come out onto the street and threatened them by brandishing his gun, she said. Danaher and the two other men were unarmed and Rodriguez's life was never in any danger, Johnson said.
Defense attorney Paul Sampson argued that Rodriguez went to complain and was confronted by Danaher and the two other partygoers. Sampson said Rodriguez didn't pull out his gun until he was standing in the street and Danaher approached him in a threatening manner.
Rodriguez, 50, faces up to life in prison. Jurors will begin hearing testimony on punishment Monday.
Texas' stand-your-ground law is known as the "castle doctrine." It allows people to defend themselves in their homes, workplaces or vehicles. The law also says a person using deadly force cannot provoke the attacker or be involved in criminal activity at the time.
It was Rodriguez's second trial in Danaher's slaying. After his earlier conviction in 2012, a Texas appeals court ruled that confusing instructions to the jury denied him a fair trial.