Jul 082012

Saw this story: Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.

Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison. He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas’ version of the “stand your ground” law.

But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.

The ruling is based on the fact that Rodriguez went to Danaher’s house to confront him initially and, while he had a legal right to be there, he was basically the instigator of the conflict. He picked the fight and refused to back down when it escalated.

At least from the news story, this seems correct. I don’t know many details of the event, so I’m taking it on faith that the court and jury have judged correctly and that the news account is more or less accurate.

This is the part of the story that caught Murdoc’s attention:

But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.

The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go,” said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. “The jury’s verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense.” [emphasis Murdoc’s]

A “bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go” is exactly what “stand your ground”/”no duty to retreat” means. If you have a legal right to be there, you have a “bubble” where self-defense is legal.

The ruling wasn’t that there isn’t a bubble in which to stand your ground. The ruling was that it wasn’t a case of self-defense because he sought out the fight.

 Posted by at 11:12 am

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