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Country Singer Charged With Murder

August 30, 1998

SABINAL, Texas (AP) _ Country singer Johnny Rodriguez was charged with murder in the shooting death at his home early Saturday of an acquaintance he mistook for a burglar, his lawyer said.

He was being held Saturday night in the county jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.

Rodriguez, 47, is charged in the shooting death of Israel Borrego, 26, an unemployed laborer he met a few months ago. Borrego died at a hospital after being shot once in the abdomen.

Alan Brown, Rodriguez’s attorney, called the shooting ``very defensible″ and said the singer thought Borrego was a burglar.

Police would not discuss a motive.

``Johnny was across the street at his brother’s house,″ Brown told the San Antonio Express-News. ``He heard noise, they had had problems with burglars.″

Rodriguez entered his home through the front door and drew a gun from a shelf, Brown said. ``It was dark,″ Brown said. ``An intruder came toward him. He surprised Johnny.″

Brown said Rodriguez realized whom the intruder was only after the single shot was fired.

``(Borrego) had been coming uninvited. He had been told not to be in the house,″ Brown said.

Rodriguez had his first Top Ten hit in 1972 with ``Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through).″ He moved to the top of Billboard’s Country Hit List with ``You Always Come Back (to Hurting Me)″ and again when he wrote and recorded ``Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico.″

More than a dozen of the singer’s albums and singles landed in the Top 10. But his career suffered when he began to abuse drugs and alcohol, Rodriguez has said.

Sabinal is a farming community 60 miles west of San Antonio.

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