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Court Overturns 'Stand Your Ground' Conviction

Source: Houston Chronicle
Author: Brian Rogers
Date: December 18, 2014
Photo Credit: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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A man who was convicted in 2012 after asserting self-defense in a "stand your ground" case deserves a new trial, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

Raul Rodriguez, 49, said he was defending himself when he took his video recorder, cellphone and gun to break up a neighbor's loud party street in a rural northeast Harris County neighborhood in 2010.

He was filming when he fatally shot Kelly Danaher as the 36-year-old teacher, his father and other men argued with Rodriguez over loud music. He can be heard on the video repeatedly saying, "I am in fear for my life" as they argue.

A jury disagreed with his claim of self-defense and convicted Rodriguez of murder, then sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

On Thursday, Houston's First Court of Appeals said the jury's instructions on the law on self-defense were so confusing that Rodriguez did not get a fair trial.

"At the heart of our criminal justice system is the right to a fair trial. Raul was denied this right due to incorrect jury instructions," said defense attorney Neal Davis. "Now Raul will have the chance to have a fair day in court."

Prosecutors said they are reviewing the decision and will likely appeal the ruling.

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