GREENSBURG, Pa. - Witnesses saw an absolutely stunning reaction in a Westmoreland County courtroom Friday as a jury found Ray Shetler Jr. not guilty in the 2015 death of St. Clair Township police Officer Lloyd Reed.
Ray Shetler found NOT guilty of murder #WPXI— Melanie Marsalko (@WPXIMelanie) February 17, 2018
"Oh wow. I started yelling and of course the sheriff made me stop,” said Mark Porter, Shetler’s stepfather. “But I wanted to get up and run around. Thank God, thank God. But he’s coming home. First time justice worked out.”
A wave of shock filled the courtroom as a jury of six men and six women found Shetler not guilty in the death of Reed, a verdict not even Shetler’s family was anticipating.
"Fantastic. He's coming home. Justice was served,” Porter said. “He self-defensed himself."
From the beginning, the defense claimed the fatal shot fired by Shetler to Reed’s chest was in self-defense. Reed was responding to a house on Ligonier Street for a fight between Shetler and his girlfriend, Kristin Luther.
"You saw him thanking me and hugging me and saying I saved his life,” said defense attorney Mark Daffner.
Reed’s widow and relatives were sobbing in the courtroom when the jury read the decision aloud.
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"A case like this, there really aren't any winners, but of course we're pleased with the verdict," Daffner said.
Prosecutors say there's a jury system in this country and they will abide by the jury's verdict.
"We’re, of course, very disappointed in the verdict, but on the other hand, I can't fault the jury because they spent at least 20 hours reviewing the fairly substantial amount of evidence that was put in before them,” said district attorney John Peck.
The jury did find Shetler guilty of theft and receiving stolen property. He remains in jail on $100,000 bond, and could face up to seven years in prison.
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