Two years ago, Travis Rudolph went from being a lead receiver at Florida State University to being charged with murder. His case finally came to an end on June 8, 2023 when Rudolph was found not guilty on all charges.
What led to the charges against Rudolph and how did the jury come to a not guilty verdict?
What Led to Charges Against Rudolph?
Travis Rudolph’s life changed on April 6, 2021. That night, Rudolph and his girlfriend got into an argument at Rudolph’s Florida home. Reports by the Tampa Bay Times indicate that both parties said the fight got physical before Rudolph’s girlfriend left the scene.
Shortly after she left, Rudolph’s girlfriend reportedly began contacting people about what happened. She told Rudolph’s sister that she was going to send someone to kill Rudolph and texted another friend to “shoot his s–t up.”
Around midnight, Rudolph’s four men showed up to Rudolph’s house, one who Rudolph said he believed was in a gang. Each party has different versions of what happened next. Rudolph claimed that one of the men pointed a firearm at him, at which time, Rudolph says he went inside to get his gun.
Investigators say Rudolph shot 39 rounds at the men as they attempted to flee in a black Cadillac. He shot two men, injuring one and killing another.
Rudolph was arrested and charged with one charge of first-degree murder with a firearm and three charges of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
Making a Case for “Stand Your Ground”
This blog covered the story in September 2021 as Rudolph began to make the case that the shooting was in self-defense.
Rudolph’s attorney, Marc Shiner, invoked “stand your ground” laws as Rudolph’s legal defense.
In Florida, stand your ground laws come from Florida Statute Sections 776.012 and 776.013. The laws indicate that someone can use deadly force to protect themself if they feel their life is at stake and that individuals do not have to retreat before using deadly force.
Statute 776.012 says, “A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
Rudolph’s team petitioned Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen to dismiss the case on the basis of stand your ground laws. The request was denied, and the judge ordered the case to go to trial, per reporting by the Palm Beach Post.
Jury Finds Rudolph Not Guilty
As Rudolph’s case made its way through the court system, he spent one year behind bars in Palm Beach County and another year under house arrest, according to court reports reviewed by CNN.
Rudolph’s case was finally heard in front of a jury starting on May 31, 2023. The trial lasted eight days and included testimony from Rudolph and his mother, who was in the house at the time of the altercation and subsequent shooting.
Rudolph insisted that he feared for his life when he opened fire. “I’m not guilty,” he said. “Because I was saving my and my brother’s life.”
Video evidence that captured some of the scene in front of Rudoph’s door was also shown to the jury. Prosecutors said the video didn’t show the level of danger described by Rudolph.
In the end, the jury made their decision.
They believed Rudolph’s case of self-defense and found him not guilty of one count of first-degree premeditated murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Related: 6 Signs You Need a New Attorney
Don’t Approach a Criminal Defense on Your Own
Facing criminal charges is a serious matter. If you have been charged with a crime, make sure you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
Explore your options, develop the best defense, and ensure that your rights are protected through each step of the legal process. If you have questions about an upcoming case, talk to TJ Grimaldi today. All consultations are free. Contact our team today. Schedule or call 813-226-1023 now.