Kenneth Nalan has been acquitted of assault.
After only an hour-and-a-half of deliberations on Wednesday, the jury returned with a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
Nalan’s friends and family broke down in relief when the verdict was read by the jury foreman.
Nalan was charged with first degree assault in connection with the shooting of John Duran on December 20, 2011. Nalan took the stand in his own defense to tell how he saw Duran approaching with the gun and reached for it. He says the revolver went off as he grabbed it and twisted it around out of Duran’s hands.
Duran said he was essentially facing a different direction and playing guitar as Nalan entered the bedroom and shot him.
Outside the courtroom, an emotional Nalan really only had a two-word comment for reporters.
“Just… thank God,” he said.
His wife Angela essentially echoed that comment.
“Thank God that they saw the evidence for what it was,” she said.
Nalan’s children were allowed into the courtroom only after the verdict was announced.
Jurors say their deliberations of an hour-and-a-half included lunch.
One juror, who preferred not to have his name published or broadcast, pointed to a lack of evidence and plenty of reasonable doubt.
“We all came to the same conclusion about whether the state had enough evidence to follow through with the charge that they charged Mr. Nalan on,” he said.
In this case, victim John Duran and friend John Day were really too drunk to remember what really happened. That’s based on stipulated evidence of blood alcohol content from blood drawn from the 269-pound Duran that night which indicated over twice the legal definition of intoxication. There was also Day’s own admission about being blackout drunk.
Another juror, who also preferred not to be publicly identified, also questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s main witnesses. Among other things, she noted witness Day’s changing recollections whenever victim Duran was in the courtroom. She also says she sensed an early consensus amongst the jury despite a concerted effort by everyone to play devil’s advocate and draw out some debate.
“It seemed there was no evidence that (Nalan) was reckless,” another juror said as part of an interview afterward.
Coincidentally, Nalan’s family and friends walked down the street behind the courthouse just as the few jurors just discharged from the building remained to talk to reporters. Still quite emotional, the Nalan group gave the remaining jurors a hug and said “thank you.”
Jury selection in the trial started April 2nd with jurors eventually hearing over six-days of evidence and arguments.
(Updated 4-12-12 to reflect correction to original script regarding trial start date.)