A South Florida jury agreed Wednesday that a former Florida State football player acted in self-defense when he fatally shot one man and injured another several hours after he scuffled with his girlfriend.
Travis Rudolph, 27, was found not guilty of one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder by a Palm Beach County jury.
The 12-member panel also chose not to convict Rudolph on lesser offenses, including second-degree murder and manslaughter.
A judge declined Rudolph’s request to dismiss the case last year on the basis of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows the use of deadly force if a person reasonably believes it is necessary to protect against imminent death or great bodily harm.
The sheriff’s office said at the time of Rudolph’s arrest that deputies responded to a double shooting stemming from an altercation shortly after midnight on the morning of April 7 in West Palm Beach.
When they arrived, they learned one male had already been transported to a local hospital for treatment. Another was found dead at the scene, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
The shooting occurred after four men arrived at Rudolph’s doorstep to confront Rudolph about a dispute he had with his girlfriend.
“Although we may disagree with the jury’s verdict, it is their job to determine from the facts whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. We respect the jury’s decision. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families in this case.”
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said in a statement
The ”cene inside the courtroom Wednesday as the jury read its verdict was emotional … Rudolph was in tears as were his family members.
The 27-year-old, though, eventually cracked a huge smile and shared an embrace with his lawyer. Afterward, he and his attorney thanked the jurors, the judge, the court and all others involved in the case.
“It means everything, man,” the former New York Giants receiver said to reporters. “I finally got my freedom back and I can get back to my life.”
Added Rudolph’s attorney added, “We knew he wasn’t guilty. He’s one of the nicest human beings you ever met whether he plays sports or not. This is an innocent man who did what he had to do.”
Rudolph was Florida State University’s leading receiver in 2015 and 2016 and had a short-lived career in the NFL, playing for the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins in 2017 and 2018.
In 2020, Rudolph signed with the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.