A jury in Buchanan County, Missouri, determined recently that a man was not guilty of charges of second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
The charges stemmed from an Aug. 10, 2017, incident when a man was shot to death.
It took the 12-member jury just three-and-a-half hours to return the verdict following a three-day trial.
The 26-year-old defendant had been charged with killing the 27-year-old man during an argument at the defendant's home in the 2000 block of Edmond Street in St. Joseph. He said during the trial that he shot the man in self-defense.
The defendant testified that he feared for his life after the victim became very angry during an argument. He admitted to firing a warning shot but a second shot unexpectedly hit the man, killing him.
In his closing argument, the defendant's attorney said his client had worked with police since August 2017.
"He's cooperative. He's consistent throughout the whole thing," he said in court. "He walked the walk of a person who has nothing to hide."
In their deliberations, the jurors asked a question about the legal definition of self-defense in the state.
The jury had the options of considering whether the man was not guilty, or if he was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. In the end, the jury agreed it was self-defense.
The defendant was released after the verdict was returned. He had been in custody since his arrest.
While this man's death was unfortunate, the jurors clearly believed the man acted in self-defense. The criminal justice system is at its best when jurors open-mindedly listen intently to testimony, concentrate on the statements of the attorneys and weigh all the evidence in front of them to return a just verdict.