In 2015, Travis Rudolph was making a name for himself at Florida State University where he was the leading receiver. Later, he established himself even more by playing for the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins.
But now, Rudolph, 25, is trying to defend his name by using a “stand your ground” defense in a case where he is charged with first-degree murder.
What Happened on April 6th?
The details of what happened on the night of April 6th, 2021 are pieced together through multiple witness statements, a probable cause affidavit, and a court filing that shares Rudolph’s account of the night.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Rudolph and his girlfriend had a fight earlier in the night of April 6th. The girlfriend told deputies the fight turned physical. Rudolph said his girlfriend hit him on the head with a tequila bottle and broke his phone and video game system.
After she left, Rudolph’s girlfriend began contacting people about what happened. She reportedly texted a friend and told him to go to Rudolph’s and “shoot his s–t up.” She also reportedly told Rudolph’s sister that she was going to send someone to kill Rudolph.
Around midnight, the girlfriend’s friend, along with three other men, drove to Rudolph’s house to confront him. Rudolph says he believed one of the men was in a gang, so before he went outside, he set his AR-15 next to the door.
The encounter immediately turned contentious. The affidavit stated that Rudolph was “immediately combative and confrontational.” Rudolph says he acted when one of the men pointed a firearm at him and his friend. Rudolph went inside and got his gun. He shot at the men, killing one and injuring another.
Deputies arrived on the scene and arrested Rudolph on one charge of first-degree murder with a firearm and three charges of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
A Case of Self Defense?
On the surface, it seems pretty clear that Rudolph shot and killed one man and injured another. But the question of whether or not he should be punished for these crimes is yet to be determined.
Rudolph’s attorney, Marc Shiner, is claiming that the incident was in self-defense. He is invoking “stand your ground” laws as Rudolph’s legal defense.
If convicted of first-degree murder with a firearm, Rudolph would face the death penalty or life in prison. He is hoping to avoid such a severe sentence by claiming that the murder occurred while he was fearing for his life.
Rudolph’s attorney has scheduled a “stand your ground” hearing for November 8th, 2021.
What Does It Mean to “Stand Your Ground” in Florida?
In Florida, there are a set of laws that are referred to as “stand your ground.”
“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.
A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”
In most states, there is a “duty to retreat” if a person feels their life in danger. If a person is threatened with bodily harm, they must make a reasonable attempt to escape before using deadly force. That is not the case in Florida.
In Florida, if someone feels their life is at stake, they can use deadly force to protect themself.
That is the claim that Rudolph is hoping to make.
Claiming Self-Defense in a Criminal Case
Whether or not Rudolph’s case will be deemed a situation for “stand your ground” will remain to be seen.
At the pretrial hearing, Rudolph’s criminal defense attorneys will have an opportunity to make their case in the hope that Rudolph will receive immunity, in which case the charges will be dropped. If Rudolph’s team fails to get the outcome they want at the pretrial hearing, they can use self-defense as a defense at trial. We will have to wait and see what happens.
Do you have questions about an upcoming criminal case? Do you need a criminal defense attorney who can help you explore your options to get the best possible outcome for your case? Talk to criminal defense attorney, TJ Grimaldi today. All consultations are free so contact our team today. Schedule or call 813-226-1023 today.