HOUSTON

Man who shot neighbor gets 40 years for murder

A man who claimed Texas’ version of a stand-your-ground law allowed him to fatally shoot a neighbor after an argument about a noisy party was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years for murder.

Raul Rodriguez, 46, had faced up to life in prison for the 2010 killing of Kelly Danaher.

Rodriguez, a retired Houston-area firefighter, was angry about the noise coming from a birthday party at his neighbor’s home. He went over and got into an argument with 36-year-old elementary school teacher Danaher and two other men at the party.

In a 22-minute video he recorded on the night of the shooting, Rodriguez can be heard telling a police dispatcher “my life is in danger now” and “these people are going to go try and kill me.” He then said, “I’m standing my ground here” and fatally shot Danaher and wounded the other two men.

Rodriguez’s reference to standing his ground is similar to the claim made by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is citing Florida’s stand-your-ground law in his defense in the fatal February shooting of an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin. Rodriguez’s case, however, was decided under a different kind of self-defense doctrine.

STOCKTON, Calif.

City to file for bankruptcy, hurting residents, retirees

When Stockton becomes the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy, it will strike a hard blow to residents, especially city employees and retirees whose health benefits and pensions helped drive the city toward insolvency.

City Manager Bob Deis said late Tuesday that officials were left with little choice but to recommend bankruptcy after failing to hammer out deals with creditors to ease the city’s $26 million budget shortfall.

Deis expects the city to file for Chapter 9 protection by Friday.

Stockton will join a number of other cities and counties across the nation that have plunged into financial crisis as the recession made it tough to cover rising costs involving current and former employees, bondholders and vendors.

“What’s going on in Stockton is endemic to what’s going on all over the state and the country,” said Michael Sweet, a San Francisco bankruptcy attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP. “Local governments are hurting and strained under the current pension and compensation systems. These systems are not appropriate for the type of economy this country has evolved into.”

— From news service reports