A former Florida State and NFL football player has been acquitted after a jury agreed he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot one man and injured another.
Travis Rudolph, 27, was found not guilty of one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder by a Palm Beach County jury, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The 12-member panel also chose not to convict Rudolph on lesser offenses, including second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Rudolph was first arrested in April 2021 after four men went to his home several hours after he fought with his girlfriend, investigators said.
At some point, Rudolph armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle and opened fire on them as they drove away, killing Sebastien Jean-Jacques and wounding Tyler Robinson.
Rudolph testified that the men were armed and shooting back at him. Investigators said they never found evidence of the fleeing men returning fire.
Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver in 2015 and 2016. He left the team early to enter the NFL draft in 2017.
He 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 after his arrest.
He 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.
The boy’s mother, Leah Paske, posted video of the moment, which quickly went viral, saying that her ‘super sweet child’ often eats alone.
‘I asked if I could sit next to him, and he said “Sure, why not?”‘ Rudolph told reporters in 2016. ‘I just felt like we had a great conversation. He started off and was so open. He told me his name was Bo, and how much he loves Florida State, and he went from there.’