Within three minutes of shooting a neighbor three times, Omar Rodriguez was laying the foundation for a "Stand Your Ground" self-defense claim, calling 911 that Saturday evening in June and telling Miami-Dade Police: “A guy just pulled a knife on me and I had to shoot him.”
He repeated that claim during a 2:35 a.m. interrogation at police headquarters: “Why? It’s self-defense. That guy’s going to kill me. He would not stop.”
That guy was Jose "Pepe" Rey – veteran, father of two, husband of 25 years – and Rodriguez told police Rey was threatening his life with a knife.
But investigative documents turned over to the defense and obtained by NBC 6 contain new information that casts doubt on Rodriguez’s self-defense claims.
For instance, Lissette Rey told police that before her husband died nine days after the shooting, he told her the knife found on the ground next to where he was shot was planted there by Rodriguez.
She said her husband never owned the knife and she had never before seen it.
Both she and a neighbor also told police Rey was not confronting Rodriguez, who was angry about –- among other things -- dog waste left on the lawn of his son’s house. They said Rodriguez was the aggressor.
"As I see Pepe he’s trying to walk back from the guy and then...I see two sparks and then Pepe dropped," neighbor Hector Serba told a police detective.
"He was retreating?" the detective asked. “But he didn’t look like he was threatening Omar in any way?”
“Absolutely no way,” Serba answered.
“That animal (Rodriguez) must’ve been seven feet, 10 feet away from my husband,” Lissette Rey said. “My husband with arms, like, ‘What’s your problem?’ and he just shot him.”
The only thing she said she saw her husband carrying was a glass that contained a mint julep, not a knife. And DNA testing on that knife was able to reveal only Rodriguez’s DNA on it, not Rey’s.
Rodriguez was the subject of 90 police reports filed over five years by neighbors, who accused him of slashing their tires, harassing them, spreading false allegations to their employers and exhibiting other behavior that led many to call him the “crazy neighbor.”
But, lacking sufficient evidence of a crime, he largely escaped legal troubles.
He is charged with first-degree murder in Rey’s death, and aggravated assault for allegedly pointing his weapon at Lissette Rey as she tried to comfort and save her husband.
Rodriguez told her “get away from him or I’ll kill you, too,” Lissette Rey told police.