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Roderick Scott Claims Self-Defense in Teen's Shooting

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Rochester: Roderick Scott Claims Self-Defense in Teen's Shooting
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A Greece man charged with shooting a 17-year-old to death testified at his own trial Tuesday.

Roderick Scott told the court he shot Christopher Cervini in self-defense.

Scott is charged with manslaughter in the April 4 shooting across the street from his home on Baneberry Way in Greece.

Scott told the court he confronted Cervini and other person as they broke into a neighbor's car. The other person ran away, but Scott said Cervini ran at him.

Scott already had his gun drawn. He said he told Cervini to stop, but the teen kept coming, so he shot him twice.

"I thought he did very well on the stand. I don't think the cross examination touched him one bit. I think he was very consistent and had been consistent from the beginning...that the only reason he shot his gun is because Chris Cervini was charging at him," said Scott’s lawyer, John Parrinello.

“I don't know how you can not see that, especially when you're in fear for your life. You're going to notice every movement, how they're positioned, how they're coming at you...how you feel threatened. He can't point to anything conclusively as to how this person was a threat other than running down the driveway," said Julie Finocchio, prosecutor.

The prosecution claims Cervini was actually shot from behind.

Lawyers will make their closing arguments in the case Wednesday. Jury deliberation is set to begin Thursday.


Closer Look at Tuesday's Testimony

When Roderick Scott took the stand in his own defense Tuesday, he told the jury that neighbors alerted him before April 4 that break-ins had been occurring in the neighborhood.

He also spoke about his work history, which includes Johnson & Johnson, and Kodak, which sold his division to J&J.

Scott said on April 4, he was sleeping on the couch, because he and his girlfriend had a disagreement. In the early morning he awoke and heard voices. He looked out the front door to see what was going on outside.

He testified he saw three individuals who were in his driveway, saw them walk out and cross the street, then walk up to a neighbor's vehicle, pulling on the latch and handles of the neighbor's truck. He then went upstairs, told his girlfriend Tracy that someone was breaking into a vehicle, and told her to call 911. He grabbed his pistol, for which he has a permit, "to protect myself" then went outside.

Scott said his intent was "to stop or detain the criminals," not to shoot anyone. He walked down the driveway and over to 39 Baneberry Way. He saw one person standing on a sidewalk, and some rummaging going on inside a vehicle, which had the dome light on.

At that point, Scott testified he pulled his handgun out of the holster, and chambered a round. "I wanted to protect myself and I intended to," Scott said.

He walked toward the individual, who started to walk away toward Manitou Road. He did not tell that individual to stop. It's believed that individual was Brian Hopkins.

At this point, Scott was a foot or so off the sidewalk, and he saw someone rustling around inside the vehicle at 39 Baneberry. He testified he clearly saw two individuals. He drew his pistol and assumed the a shooter's stance. "I didn't know what I was up against, or if they were armed," Scott said.

He told the individuals to stop, that his girlfriend had called 911, and that he had a gun. The individuals stopped, and a few seconds passed. Scott says the teens were talking, then one of them ran around the front of the truck. The other ran down the driveway toward him, screaming. Scott warned him he had a gun, then shot him.

He assumed the boy may have been armed.

"I felt if he got to me he would try to kill me or hurt me," Scott testified.

After the shooting, Scott said Cervini, who was running at him, kept running, passed by him, and fell face-first onto the ground.

Scott went back into the house, had his girlfriend call 911 and spoke to the 911 operator.

The police took him to the station on Island Cottage Road, where he was held for hours, before being transported to jail. Neither the two 911 calls Scott made, nor the videotaped statements he made to police, were played in court.

Scott testified that he never refused to talk to the police, and that everything he told the police was no different than what he testified to in court.

When prosecutor Julie Finocchio cross-examined Scott, she began by discussing Scott's apparent expertise with guns, and his frequent visits to a gun club for target practice. Finocchio also brought up Roderick Scott's involvement in three different styles of martial arts, and his participation in competitions.

Then Finocchio asked Scott, after he grabbed his gun and went outside, and he didn't go back indoors, "You didn't just go back inside and wait for the police?"

"No," said Scott.

"You decided you were going to handle the situation," said Finocchio.

"No," replied Scott. He told Finocchio he was going to go across the street to tell his neighbor someone was trying to break into the truck. On the way there, Scott said he saw something - a person walking on the sidewalk. Scott pulled the gun out of its holster and chambered a round.

Prosecutor Finocchio handed Scott the gun in court, and told Scott to chamber it, which he did, in just a second.

Defense Attorney John Parrinello said that the prosecutor kept interrupting Scott's answers, and he asked for a mistrial three times in a row during this testimony, which was denied each time.

Scott told Finocchio he could not recall how the person who was coming at him was positioned – whether he was facing him or not.

Finocchio then played a portion of a videotaped statement that Scott made to police, in which he said the person who ran at him was facing him directly all along. Finocchio suggested discrepancies in what Scott told investigators versus what he told the court.

"Having seen no weapon and guessing maybe he has one, you decide to shoot," said Finocchio.

"Correct," said Scott, calmly.

Before Scott testified Tuesday, Parrinello asked the judge to strike the testimony of James Cervini, saying it is riddled with inconsistencies.

Referring to his client, Parrinello said, "This arrest was a rush to judgement."

But Judge David Egan denied the motion. James Cervini is Chris Cervini's cousin.

Parrinello also asked for an order of dismissal, saying there is no proof that Scott intended to hurt Cervini. "There's no doubt, Christopher Cervini died by his own hand, his own conduct," said Parrinello.

That motion was also denied.

The day's first defense witness was Kenneth Tisdale, a friend and co-worker of Scott's, who also lives in Greece. Tisdale testified that on April 2, he and Scott played basketball at a park in Greece, and that Scott was banged up during the game, and was limping the next day at work.

Tisdale's prior arrest for soliciting a prostitute was brought up by the prosecution.

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