Self-Defense or Murder? What Drove Man to Kill Neighbor


Stand Your Ground Doesn't Apply, Prosecutor Says

Rodriguez was incorrect in claiming Stand Your Ground in his defense, according to one of his prosecutors, Kelli Johnson.

"This is not a Stand Your Ground case," Johnson told "20/20." "[Rodriguez] broke the law. He went down to neighbors that would have given a plate of food. He walked down packed, ready for a chance to use that gun that he artfully carried every second of his life. He confronted four unsuspecting men who had spent an entire day celebrating their family."

In June a Houston jury agreed, finding Raul Rodriguez guilty of murder. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Raul Rodriguez sat down with "20/20" for an exclusive jailhouse interview. "I regret [Danaher's] dead," he said. "I regret everything that happened. ... It wasn't murder. I had to defend myself."

Rodriguez said he went to the house only to capture video evidence to show the police how noisy the party was. He had no intention of starting a fight, he said.

The prosecutors "made me out to be some evil person that did all kinds of horrible things," Rodriguez said. "It breaks my heart to know that people said that about me, 'cause I'm not like that."

Nine neighbors testified for the prosecution. They said Rodriguez was a neighborhood bully who wore his gun to the bus stop to pick up his children, killed dogs he felt were threatening him and poisoned cats.

Rodriguez's defense attorneys, Bill Stradley and Neal Davis, put the following question to the jury: If Raul Rodriguez had premeditated intent to kill, why did he call the police and videotape his every move?

They said he feared for his life, believing Kelly Danaher and his friends to be armed. He had every right to defend himself, with the weapon he was licensed to carry, they said. They plan to appeal.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Brown told "20/20" the only weapon recovered from the scene was Rodriguez's.

Kelly Danaher's mother, siblings, and widow do their best to keep his memory alive. They say they are reminded of him every day they look at his daughter Peri, now 5.

Danaher's brother Brett told "20/20" that while he was pleased with the verdict, he will forever feel his brother's loss.

"No verdict is going to bring Kelly back," he said. "Three people were shot and my brother was killed over something very senseless. The entire thing didn't have to happen. ... Knowing that [Peri's] not going to have a dad -- it breaks your heart."

Watch the full story on "20/20" TONIGHT at 10/9c.

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