HOUSTON – Before Raul Rodriguez was taken away to begin a life sentence, he heard from the sister of the man he has now twice been convicted of killing. Rodriguez was found guilty of murder in the 2010 death of Kelly Danaher.
"You are small, you are pathetic," said Danaher's sister, Ashley Caspar.
Caspar condensed five years of pain into a 4-minute and 37-second victim impact statement that was given after the jury sentenced Rodriguez.
"You are a coward," Caspar said. "You are the kind of person that makes the world a darker place to live in."
Five years ago Rodriguez went to the Danaher's home to complain about loud music coming from a birthday party. Rodriguez was armed with a pistol, flashlight and a cellphone that was recording video. Rodriguez claimed Danaher became aggressive and he fired in self-defense. Two other men were wounded in the shooting.
In 2012, a jury rejected Rodriguez's claim he had the legal right to "stand his ground" and use deadly force to defend himself. The jury found Rodriguez guilty of murder and sentenced him to 40 years in prison. Two years later an appeals court overturned the conviction on the grounds the first jury was given confusing instructions.
A second jury found also found Rodriguez guilty of murder, but this time sentenced him to life in prison. Rodríguez's attorney hoped to parlay his client's years in the military and as a Houston area firefighter into a lighter sentence. Prosecutor Donna Logan countered that argument.
"You don't get a military discount for murder. You don't get a discount when you commit a murder because maybe you worked for the fire department for a few years," said Logan.
Rodriguez will be 80 years old before he is eligible for parole.