WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former Florida State football star Travis Rudolph testified Tuesday in his "stand your ground" hearing.
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.
He was the last to testify on the fourth and final day of his much-prolonged hearing, recalling the events that led to last year's fatal shooting.
The former college and NFL wide receiver testified that he and his then-girlfriend, Dominique Jones, had gotten into an argument after she discovered that he had been exchanging text messages with another woman.
Rudolph admitted during testimony that they called each other names and he body-shamed her, though he claimed to have never hurt her physically. Angered by the remark, Jones hit him with a tequila bottle and told him she was going to send her brothers to kill him, Rudolph said.
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 2021.
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.
Rudolph testified that he tried to get the men to leave, but they left him no other choice.
"I really didn't want to hurt anybody," he said.
Rudolph's siblings testified earlier Tuesday that their brother's life was in danger when he shot and killed Jean-Jacques.
Terrenie Coleman testified that Jones told her she was going to get her brothers to kill the former Seminoles star.
Darryl Rudolph, better known as DJ, took the stand next, saying he was with his brother at the time of the shooting.
He testified that a comment about Jones' body escalated once a group of men showed up at the home, resulting in the brawl.
"We felt like we were going to die that day," DJ Rudolph said.
During cross examination, Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis questioned why the brothers didn't call police either after Jones' threat or the brawl. DJ Rudolph said they didn't call 911 because they "did not want to incriminate" themselves.
Defense attorney Marc Shiner asked Rudolph why he didn't wait to see if the men who came looking to pick a fight at his home shot first.
"I wasn't going to give them the chance to wait," Rudolph said. "I mean, if I wait, that could have been — cost me and my brother's life."
According to the affidavit, one of the people in the car told detectives that he had been contacted by 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.
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.
Prosecutors argue that the charges are justified because Rudolph fired the shots while the vehicle was driving away.
During cross examination, Assistant State Attorney Alexcia Cox tried to poke holes in Rudolph's account, questioning him as to why he went inside to get his rifle while leaving his defenseless mother — whom he said he was trying to protect — next to one of the men Rudolph claimed to have seen pull a gun.
"Ma'am, this all happened in a matter of seconds, and I definitely can't win with my fist over a firearm, so that's why I went in the house to grab my firearm," Rudolph explained.
Cox then questioned Rudolph's claim that he ran toward the direction of the car once he saw the gunman run off and noticed that his brother was being jumped. She asked Rudolph how someone who had never played in the NFL "outruns you all the way down a football field from your house to get to your brother, is that your testimony?"
"Yes," Rudolph said.
A star wide receiver at Cardinal Newman High School, Rudolph went on to become a standout for the Seminoles, gaining 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons at Florida State from 2014-16.
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.
"I will prepare a written order on this as quickly as I can," he said before court was adjourned.
Rudolph faces life in prison if convicted of murder.