• December 5, 2019

Hooters guard found guilty - Odessa American: News

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Hooters guard found guilty

Sentencing to take place Monday

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Posted: Friday, July 19, 2019 7:22 pm

A former security guard was found guilty by a jury after three hours of deliberation Friday evening of shooting a man in the back outside of a Hooters nearly two years ago. 

The defendant, 26-year-old Rance Struck, was found guilty of the second-degree felony of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was first arrested and charged in September of 2017 after shooting Jared Moore in the back following an altercation between the two. 

Struck’s punishment has not been determined yet. Sentencing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday in the 358th District Court of Judge Stacy Trotter in the Ector County Courthouse.

Struck was the last defendant to take the stand before the State and the defense rested their cases Friday. He gave his side of the story, how his manager had told him to tell Moore’s table to quiet down that night. Moore had been with several other co-workers who had come to Odessa for an air conditioning job in Houston. 

“I will keep it down when the f**king music turns down,” Struck said Moore told him that night. Hooters manager Clint Brown had previously testified he told Struck to leave the table alone after the confrontation, but Struck later said he followed the group outside to make sure there was a designated driver. 

Despite this, Jennifer Wargnier was working the Wendy’s drive-thru that night, and had done so many other nights, and testified she had never seen a security guard escort any guests out of Hooters before in the year she had been working there.

Struck’s story was slightly different than other witnesses who testified. He said he shot at Moore while aiming toward the Wendy’s, but everyone else at the scene who testified, including Moore and his two friends, Trevor Cain and Michael Martin, said Struck had followed Moore around a car and shot toward JBS Parkway. 

Martin had previously testified Moore began attacking Struck after he told them to “get [their] p**sy asses back to Houston.” Struck then pepper sprayed Moore, who swung at Struck a few more times before Struck drew his pistol, at which point witnesses say he began to turn around and run away.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Munk asked Struck how the shell from his sidearm could have landed near the spot which matched other witnesses’ testimony but not his, and Struck said the shell could have been kicked or hung up on clothing. 

More conflicting testimony came when Struck said he wasn’t sure whether he shot Moore in the front or back. When Munk told him he said on a 911 call he had shot Moore in the back, Struck said he would disagree with that. Munk then played audio of the 911 call where Struck tells the operator he shot Moore in the back. 

Security footage from inside Hooters also showed Struck had not followed out several other groups leaving. When Munk asked Struck why he didn’t just ask in the group who was driving, he said it didn’t occur to him. 

The defense’s argument for Struck, made by his attorney C.H. Brockett Jr., was that Struck was scared for his life at the time, justifying self-defense. 

“I believe I had no other alternative than to draw my weapon and fire,” Struck told the jury. “I was in fear for my life.”

This matched similar testimony by other witnesses, with Martin telling police he seemed scared to death, and Cain testifying he would understand if Struck was scared, due to being outnumbered. 

Struck then began choking up and crying as Brockett asked him to tell the jury what he was thinking at the time of the altercation. 

“I thought I was gonna die,” Struck said. 

Munk, in his closing statement, said Struck’s guilt came down to whether the jury thought he provoked the fight. 

“If he provoked a fight, he loses his claim to self-defense,” Munk told the jury. “It’s that simple.” 

Munk said Struck could see Moore was backing off, as he told police in a recorded statement, so he said firing at him was not a reasonable response. 

Brockett said they are not judging whether his actions that night were reasonable, but whether his belief at the time that his life was in danger was reasonable.

“Was Rance Struck’s belief he was under unlawful deadly attack reasonable under the circumstances?” Brockett asked the jury. 

On Monday, the jury will choose a sentence for Struck, to serve prison for 2 to 20 years, or possibly probation.

Odessa, TX

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