June 14, 2012 By Wallin & Klarich

A retired Houston-area firefighter faces up to life in prison after a jury convicted him of murder for gunning down his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over a noisy house party.

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Rodriguez used Texas’ “Stand your ground” law in his murder defense. As in many other states, the law is an expansion of basic self-defense doctrine. The law in part “abolishes the duty to retreat if the defendant can show he: (1) had a right to be present at the location where deadly force was used; (2) did not provoke the person against whom deadly force was used; and (3) was not engaged in criminal activity at the time deadly force was used.

Raul Rodriguez made a number of calls to police dispatch before he decided to confront his neighbors late at night about the noise coming from their party. Rodriguez brought his cell phone and a handgun and while walking over to the neighbors’ house, he was confronted by two men who jumped out of a pick up. Rodriguez, who recorded the confrontation on his cell phone video, indicated that he was in fear-and he shouted out that he was armed and would use his weapon to protect himself.

One of the men then shouted that he was going to get his weapon. At some point after that, one of the men can be heard laughing-a scuffle then ensues-and a single shot rings out, killing one of the men who confronted Rodriguez.

Perhaps a major flaw in the defense case was the failure of Rodriguez to take the witness stand in his own defense. While all criminal defendants have a constitutional right to remain silent and refuse to testify, there are instances when it is critical that an accused explains to a jury why he or she decided to take action. This was clearly one of those cases.

Rodriguez murder conviction could result in a life sentence in prison. Stay tuned as his appeal takes place. A new trial could result, in which case he will have new lawyers who should tell him he should explain his actions—which were likely lawful–to the jury!

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Southern California, please contact our Southern California murder defense attorneys of Wallin & Klarich at 1-888-280-6839 or submit one of our forms to receive immediate assistance.

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