Former Jacksonville Bonefish Grill manager accused of killing Savannah Gold now claims self-defense

Former Jacksonville Bonefish Grill manager accused of killing Savannah Gold now claims self-defense

Savannah Gold

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The man accused of killing a 21-year-old Jacksonville woman in 2017 said he did it because it feared for his own life.

Lee Rodarte Jr. and Savannah Gold worked together at Bonefish Grill in Mandarin and had an on-again, off-again relationship. Police say Rodarte killed Gold and later led officers to her body.

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Rodarte, who is now 30, has changed his story several times and even told Action News Jax's Bridgette Matter it was an accident.

Rodarte has now filed a "stand your ground" defense in a motion to dismiss his case, where he argues he killed Gold because he thought his life was in danger.

There are a lot of details in the motion, but it boils down to Rodarte saying he went to meet Gold and they began arguing.

He said Gold started hitting him and when he tried to break her grip he "felt a pop" in her neck. The motion says Rodarte was "justified in standing his ground and meeting force with force."

Gold’s family was incensed by this motion, telling us on Wednesday that "anything that comes out of this murderer's mouth is a lie."

Rodarte is due in court Aug. 22 on second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a body charges.

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