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UPI Focus: Rodriguez acquitted on murder charge

UVALDE, Texas, Oct. 13 -- A jury Wednesday acquitted country singer Johnny Rodriguez of murder in the slaying of a man found in his mother's South Texas home in August 1988. Rodriguez, who had a dozen top 10 country hits in the late 70s, has contended that he shot Israel 'Bosco' Borrego in self-defense.

The jury had the case only a few hours before reaching a verdict late in the day. In closing arguments earlier Wednesday, District Attorney Anton Hackebeil disputed the self-defense theory. 'The evidence strongly suggests that Johnny did not shoot Bosco Borrego in self-defense,' he said. 'This man is simply refusing to accept his responsibility.' Rodriguez, 53, was charged with shooting Borrego to death in a home owned by the singer's mother in Sabinal, a small town 60 miles west of San Antonio. Defense attorney Alan Brown called the victim 'Bosco the burglar,' and said Rodriguez knew he was dangerous. He said Rodriguez feared for his safety when he fired the fatal shot in August 1988. Evidence during the seven-day trial indicated Rodriguez and Borrego were both drunk at the time of the shooting. Hackebeil said Borrego would often 'sleep it off' at the Rodriguez home because his wife wouldn't let him into their home when he was drinking. He said Rodriguez had threatened Borrego and kicked the man as he was dying. Rodriguez enjoyed his greatest popularity as a singer in the late 70s, but his career faltered after that, mainly due to personal problems. He continues to perform at county fairs and rodeos in Texas. ---

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