Former Marine claims self-defense in fatal shooting

- Former U.S. Marine Ruben Rodriguez knew his life was in danger the moment his gun began slipping from his grip.  In January of 2015, he was arrested for shooting and killing Enrique Garcia and is now facing second-degree murder charges.

He says Garcia and another man had broken into his shed.  Rodriguez says he feared for his life, so he had to shoot.

During a stand-your-ground hearing today, Rodriguez said he jumped in his car, with his then-girlfriend, and brought along an AR-15 to track them down, which he did.

"These two are the same people that were breaking into my house," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says he warned them to stay back -- he was armed -- but the two men approached his car anyway.  Garcia grabbed his gun, he says, and put the muzzle in his mouth and dared him to pull the trigger.

"He told me to shoot him," explained Rodriguez.

That's when Rodriguez's military training kicked in.

"If somebody has your gun you push and then you yank back and when you do it creates a distance as well as giving you control of your gun," said Rodriguez.

But Rodgriguez says he was quickly losing control.  "When I saw him swing at me and saw it was in his hand, I pulled the safety off and pulled the trigger."

Rodriguez didn't stick around -- he drove away. 

Hillsborough Deputy Luke Hussey was one of the first to check on Garcia.  "He wasn't breathing and again he had sustained a gunshot wound to the facial area."

But under cross-examination, the prosecution tried to suggest, instead of calling police for help, Rodriguez wanted to settle the score himself.

"Did you fire the gun or did the gun go off?" Prosecutor Christine Brown asked.

"I fired the gun to save my life," Rodriguez replied.

The judge is expected to rule in a few months. If she believes the shooting was justified, Rodriguez walks away a free man.  If not, the case goes to trial and a jury will decide.

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