Disturbing testimony in murderer's sentencing trial

June 14, 2012 3:36:44 PM PDT
Raul Rodriguez, now a convicted murderer, is heading to prison -- but for how long? The same jury that convicted him of killing teacher Kelly Danaher is hearing from other neighbors in the punishment phase of the trial. So far not one of his neighbors has anything good to say about Rodriguez. In fact, some of their testimony is disturbing.

Raul Rodriguez, 47, argued he was within his rights under Texas' version of a stand-your-ground law when he killed Kelly Danaher in 2010. Rodriguez was angry about the noise coming from Danaher's home, where the family was having a birthday party for Danaher's wife and young daughter.

Rodriguez went to the home and got into an argument with Danaher, a 36-year-old elementary school teacher, and two other men who were at the party.

In a 22-minute video he recorded the night of the shooting, Rodriguez can be heard telling a police dispatcher "my life is in danger now" and "these people are going to go try and kill me." He then said "I'm standing my ground here," and shot Danaher after somebody appeared to grab his camera. The two other men were wounded.

Plenty of dramatic testimony from the prosecution's witnesses played out in front of a packed courtroom on Thursday. Jurors will use this testimony to decide how long Rodriguez will face behind bars. It could be anywhere from five years to life in prison.

"I say life because I don't want him to get out," said Mindy Danaher, the victim's widow. "I don't want him to hurt anybody. I want him to die in prison."

On Thursday several of Rodriguez's neighbors took the stand, many saying they lived in fear of him for years.

Jamie Johnson told the court, "He was a bully out there and he thought that he ran the street and made the rules out there."

David Johnson told jurors he saw Rodriguez tie up a dog and then shoot it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

He added, "I saw him shooting the large dog and it was crawling around on its back legs."

"When every neighbor on the block wants to testify against him, that means this guy's got problems," suggested Ricky Johnson, a friend of the victim. "He needs to be off the streets."

"I am freaking out," Mindy said. "I mean, that is insane to know that someone that crazy is living down the street from me and you have no idea."

The prosecution has rested their case. Rodriguez's attorney says he will probably call up a few witnesses on his behalf when the defense takes their turn. The defense is scheduled to resume on June 25 at 10am. Then the case will go back to the jury for sentencing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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