Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
The murder case against a former Florida State University and NFL player will go forward after a judge denied Travis Rudolph’s Stand your Ground claim.
Rudolph faces life in prison if convicted of killing Sebestian Jean-Jacques, 21, in April 2021. He’s also been charged with three counts of attempted murder.
During the four-day hearing that began in November and wrapped up last week, Rudolph told Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen he saw one of his four attacker’s gun and feared for his life.
In Florida, the state has the burden of disproving a stand-your-ground claim. Gillen said the state met that burden with the expert testimony from a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who told the judge that Rudolph fired off 39 rounds from an AR-15 rifle. The deputy said a shell casing closest to the house where he was jumped by Jean-Jacques and other men was 311 feet away. Testimony that from the medical examiner who said the fatal gunshot was in Jean-Jacques back also bolstered the state’s case, the judge said.
Video shown during the hearing showed the attackers walking down the street when Rudolph ran into his Lake Park home and emerged with his short rifle. In the video, Travis’ mother is heard pleading with her son to not chase after his attackers.
“It’s undisputed that he went after the initial aggressors despite his mother’s pleas to stop him. It’s undisputed that none of the initial aggressors fired a single shot,” Gillen wrote in his ruling.
Gillen said given all the circumstances at the time Rudolph began shooting, “the appearance of continuing danger was not so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through use of deadly force.”
Gillen said if the case does go to trial, Rudolph is permitted to claim self-defense.
Eileen Kelley can be reached at 772-925-9193 or email@example.com.