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Travis Rudolph's brother testifies in 'stand your ground' hearing

Former Florida State star charged with murder in Lake Park shooting
Travis Rudolph wears mask in court during continuation of 'stand your ground' hearing, March 7, 2022
Posted at 9:03 AM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 09:03:42-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The brother of a former Florida State football star accused of murder was testifying Tuesday in his sibling's "stand your ground" hearing.

Darryl Rudolph took the stand Tuesday, explaining why he and his brother, Travis Rudolph, felt their lives were in danger.

Travis Rudolph, 26, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with a Lake Park shooting that killed Sebastien Jean-Jacques last year.

According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office probable cause affidavit, Rudolph shot two people during an altercation outside a home in the 500 block of North Redwood Drive in April.

Jean-Jacques fled after the shooting and was later found fatally wounded in the front passenger seat of a car near 40th Street and Broadway Avenue in West Palm Beach. The driver and back seat passenger were also in the car, but they were uninjured.

Another victim was found with gunshot wounds at the shooting scene in Lake Park.

Defense attorney Marc Shiner said his client's charges should be dismissed under the state's "stand your ground" law, citing self-defense.

"We believe that the evidence is going to show clearly at the time he shot his gun, he was in danger — and so was his brother — and he was protecting his life," Shiner told reporters Monday outside the courtroom as the hearing resumed after a four-month hiatus.

According to the affidavit, one of the people in the car told detectives that he had been contacted by Rudolph's girlfriend, Dominique Jones, who told him that she had been in a fight with Rudolph.

The man and three others then drove to Rudolph's home to speak with him, but Rudolph was "immediately combative and confrontational," the affidavit said.

He then said Rudolph and another individual "started fighting" with everyone in the car.

After several minutes of fighting, the man tried to get everyone back in the car and was preparing to leave when Rudolph went inside his home and soon returned, running behind them with a gun and opening fire at the car, the affidavit said.

North Redwood Drive home where fatal shooting involving Travis Rudolph occurred
This is the North Redwood Drive home in Lake Park where a fatal shooting occurred. Former Florida State and NFL wide receiver Travis Rudolph was arrested in connection with the crime.

The driver said he heard someone in the car say that he was "hit" and realized that one of the people in their group wasn't in the car. He continued to drive toward a hospital, but the car broke down and they called 911.

Detectives went to St. Mary's Medical Center to speak to the surviving victim, who corroborated the story.

Jones also told detectives that she had been in a fight with Rudolph hours earlier, but she wasn't there at the time of the shooting.

Another witness to the shooting said he saw a group of people fighting in the front yard of Rudolph's home, heard gunshots and saw Rudolph holding a rifle.

Rudolph refused to speak with detectives.

Other testimony included a crime scene expert who said there were numerous shell casings in the roadway and a forensic investigator who said the body was still in the vehicle when he arrived.

Prosecutors argue that the charges are justified because Rudolph fired the shots while the vehicle was driving away.

A star wide receiver at Cardinal Newman High School, Rudolph went on to play at Florida State. He hauled in 153 catches for 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons with the Seminoles from 2014-16.

Florida State Seminoles receiver Travis Rudolph vs. Florida Gators in 2016
Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph runs past the Florida defense on a 46-yard touchdown reception during the second half Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State defeated Florida 31-13.

The West Palm Beach native left school early to declare for the NFL Draft. Although he wasn't drafted, Rudolph signed with the New York Giants in 2017 and spent two seasons with the team.

Palm Beach County Judge Jeffrey Gillen will ultimately determine whether the trial moves forward.

Rudolph faces life in prison if convicted of murder.

"He's sorry that a life was lost, but he's also sorry that someone tried to take his life and his brother's life, so he's confident he's going to be vindicated and get back to his life," Shiner told reporters.