Jurors find man guilty in Seminole Deputy dragging case

The man accused of dragging a former Seminole County sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop was found guilty of attempted manslaughter, avoiding the more serious charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. 

Jurors also found Rocky Rudolph guilty of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, resisting an officer without violence, fleeing/attempting to elude, attempting to deprive an officer of protection communication, and possession of cannabis. 

The three-day trial ended Wednesday. In closing statements, the state argued that Rudolph was trying to hurt former Seminole County Deputy Aaron Blaise during that traffic stop in 2019. 

"The defense says the only thing their client did wrong was he didn't turn the car off. No, he didn't turn the car off, and he tried to drive off with Deputy Blaise still on the car," said Attorney Gino Feliciani. 

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said Rudolph was originally pulled over because of his dark window tint. They said during that stop, Rudolph was questioned about the smell of marijuana. The sheriff's office said at that point Rudolph refused to comply. At one point, there was a struggle over the deputy's weapon, and Rudolph started to drive away with Deputy Blaise hanging onto the SUV. 


During the encounter, Rudolph was shot, and Deputy Blaise fell off the vehicle.  The defense argued their client feared he was going to get shot as the encounter escalated. They said Rudolph was trying to get away. 

"Only one person who tried to murder anybody, and that's Deputy Blaise - who tried to shoot my client in the head," said the defense. 

State Attorney Phil Archer released a statement after the verdict was announced. 

"I want to commend this jury for recognizing that attempting to avoid arrest by using violence towards an officer is always a crime. Too often, these incidents turn deadly, and I'm thankful this one didn't. Hopefully, this conviction sends a clear message that you won't avoid jail; you'll get more time in it. A lot more if someone gets hurt," the statement read.

Rudolph's sentencing is set for Feb. 14. Until then, the judge said he is to remain in jail with no bond.