HOUSTON—Raul Rodriguez, a retired Baytown firefighter who shot and killed a New Caney ISD teacher in a dispute over loud music two years ago, claims he opened fire in self-defense.
And his attorneys believe a 20-minute, grainy video taken by Rodriguez on the night of the shooting proves it.
Rodriguez is facing murder charges in the death of P.E. teacher Kelly Danaher.
It happened in May of 2010, outside Danaher’s home. He was hosting a party that Rodriguez, who lives nearby, said was too loud.
So the retired firefighter, who has his CHL, grabbed his gun, flashlight and his video camera and went outside of Danaher’s home to document the noise.
For the first 10 minutes he stood outside the home, no one noticed him. Then, Rodriguez, Danaher and a group of partygoers got into a confrontation.
In the video, Rodriguez can be heard talking to the constable’s office, telling them that he was going to have to defend himself, and that the group of people were going to harm him.
Meanwhile, the partygoers, whose faces were not visible, were talking to each other and yelling at Rodriguez.
Danaher and his friends appeared to be unarmed, but one of the men on the video can be heard saying he could go inside and come back out “equal to” Rodriguez. Rodriguez said he thought that meant the man would get a gun.
As the partygoers talked amongst themselves and Rodriguez spoke with the dispatcher, a male voice, laughing, can be heard approaching the camera.
Then, gunshots are heard.
Three men, including Danaher, were hit. The other two – Houston firefighter Ricky Johnson and Marshall Stetson, survived.
Many of Danaher’s family members were in the courtroom Wednesday, but none wanted to speak with KHOU 11 News on camera.
Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty, and officials said they expect the trial to last a few days.
Now, it’s up to the jurors to decide if the video proves that Rodriguez acted in self-defense – or if he set out to kill.
After watching the video that was shown to jurors, a man who spent a decade teaching gun owners how to obtain concealed handgun permits defended the actions of Rodriguez.
“He told them to get back,” said Jim Pruett, the owner of Jim Pruett Guns and Ammo. “One of the first things you’re taught to say is I’m armed and my life is in danger. I promise you I will use my firearm to defend myself. He did all of those things.”
But Channel 11’s legal expert questioned the suspect’s rational for the shooting, which took place in front of the victim’s house two doors down from where Rodriguez lives.
“Nobody’s hold your own ground, or stand your own ground laws are ever on the side of the person who started the fight,” said attorney Gerald Treece.
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Seemed like he overreacted to me. The person he said was threatening his life seemed to just be standing there with his hands up. Also, he wasn't armed, he said that he would go get armed. Can you shoot someone because they threaten to go and get their gun that is at their house several hundred feet away? He pulled a gun out before there was even any hint of violence, the guy was very slowly walking in his direction and he immediately jumped to "STOP RIGHT THERE OR I WILL SHOOT YOU!" Wut?