Palm Beach County

Former FSU Football Player Denied ‘Stand Your Ground' Defense in Murder Trial

Travis Rudolph was in a West Palm Beach courtroom last week to testify in a hearing

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A former star football player for Florida State University will not be able to use the state's 'Stand Your Ground' defense in his first-degree murder trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

NBC affiliate WPTV-TV reported the ruling after 26-year-old Travis Rudolph was in a West Palm Beach courtroom last week to testify in a hearing. Rudolph faces one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder for the shooting in Lake Park in April 2021.

Rudolph appeared in a courtroom in November 2021 when the hearings began, where his lawyers argued Rudolph used self-defense after he “feared for his life” and claims he was forced to open fire following a confrontation outside his home.

At the November hearing, Rudolph's ex-girlfriend Dominique Jones said she got into a fight with him before the shooting after she discovered that he cheated on her. A police affidavit reportedly said one of the four victims told police he had been in contact with Jones.

The man and three other people went to Rudolph’s home where he was "immediately combative and confrontational” according to the affidavit.

After physically fighting for several minutes, Rudolph allegedly went back inside his home and allegedly grabbed a firearm and ran behind the car before shooting at it.

One person at the scene was injured and later hospitalized. A passenger in the car was shot and killed while both the driver and another passenger were uninjured.

Detectives said witnesses told them Rudolph was holding a rifle shortly after they reported hearing the gunshots. Rudolph refused to speak with detectives, according to the affidavit.

Rudolph was a high school star in West Palm Beach before signing with the Seminoles, where he played for three seasons and finished his career with 18 touchdown receptions and helped lead FSU to an Orange Bowl victory to end the 2016 season.

Rudolph was Florida State's leading receiver in 2015 and 2016 and left the team early to enter the NFL draft in 2017. He went undrafted but eventually signed with the New York Giants and then the Miami Dolphins. He also spent time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. The team released him Wednesday.

Rudolph gained national attention in 2016 when a video of him eating lunch with an autistic student during a team visit at a Tallahassee middle school went viral. Rudolph's father died a year later after a gun accidentally discharged at a West Palm Beach strip club.

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