ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orlando man who was arrested after a shooting that left two brothers dead had his murder case dismissed after a judge agreed he only fired his gun in self-defense.
Then 24-year-old Rafael Villaverde had been charged with second-degree murder for his part in the Aug. 6, 2022 shooting that killed 21-year-old Dylan Jimenez and his brother, 28-year-old Bryan Richardson.
According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Jimenez and Richardson had gotten into an “altercation” with Villaverde that morning at the Heritage Hotel on South Orange Blossom Trail.
After a brief verbal exchange, investigators say Jimenez pulled a gun and shot Villaverde who then returned fire. Both were injured in the initial exchange of gunfire.
Deputies say Richardson ran with Jimenez to a parking lot on the north side of the hotel where he collapsed.
According to a synopsis of events from the sheriff’s office, the first deputies on scene attempted to render medical aid to Jimenez when they noticed Richardson was also holding a gun.
Deputies say they ordered Richardson to drop the gun, but he didn’t comply and was shot and killed by one of the responding deputies.
Both Richardson and Jimenez were taken to the hospital where they later died from their injuries.
During a “Stand Your Ground” hearing last week, Villaverde’s defense team argued he never fired or even raised his own gun until Jimenez had already shot him.
The state, on the other hand, tried to argue Villaverde could not claim self-defense because he “provoked the use of force against himself” by touching the gun in his pocket before Jimenez arrived on scene.
In a ruling on Villaverde’s motion to dismiss the case, a judge agreed that his “relatively innocuous actions, even if somehow provocative” occurred before Jimenez ever arrived and could not have provoked the subsequent shooting.
“Video evidence clearly establishes that upon Mr. Jimenez’s escalation of the conflict by use of deadly force, the Defendant had no other reasonable means to escape…other than to return fire.”
Villaverde had been in the Orange County jail since the day of the shooting and has since been released.
The Orange County deputy involved in the shooting has not been identified.
Read the full ruling below:
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