Testimony continues in trial of retired firefighter who says he killed neighbor in self-defense


by Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News


Posted on June 7, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 8 at 9:40 AM

HOUSTON—Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of a retired Baytown firefighter accused of killing his neighbor. The entire ordeal was captured on video that the accused actually shot.

Raul Rodriguez was charged with murder in the death of New Caney P.E. teacher Kelly Danaher.

Danaher was shot and killed in May 2010 outside his home in northeast Harris County. He was hosting a party for his wife that Rodriguez, his neighbor, thought was too loud.

So the retired firefighter, who has his concealed handgun license, grabbed his gun, flashlight and his video camera and went outside of Danaher’s home to document the noise.

Rodriguez recorded a 22-minute long video. In the first 10 minutes, you can hear him yelling at the home to keep the noise down. Toward the end of the video, partygoers notice Rodriguez outside the home, and the tension escalates.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez shot three people that night. Two survived, but Danaher died.

Defense attorneys called it a case of self-defense, saying Rodriguez feared for his life.

“As soon as we got out he pulled a gun on us and told us to get back,” said Marshall Stetson, who was also shot that night. “We weren’t even in the street. We were in the middle of the driveway.”

Stetson was one of many witnesses who took the stand Thursday.

“I was wondering why he was fearing for his life, he was the one with the gun,” Stetson said in court.

At the end of the home video, you can hear a man laughing and then a gunshot. Stetson identified the laughing man as Houston firefighter Ricky Johnson, another shooting victim.

Stetson said Johnson was hit in the stomach by the first bullet. He fell into a ditch and then wrestled Rodriguez for the gun.

“I threw my leg up grabbing for the gun,” Stetson said.

Stetson told jurors he put his hand on top of the gun by the slide, and Rodriguez bit his hand.

“I didn’t want to get shot. I wanted to get the gun away from him,” he said.

At some point, Stetson was shot, but he did manage to get the gun.

Johnson also testified late Thursday.

Prosecutors should wrap up their case early next week, and then the defense will have its turn.

Defense attorneys told KHOU 11 News they don’t yet know if Rodriguez will testify.