CANTON For the first time in almost seven years, Wayne T. Oxley Jr. is a free man.
Mr. Oxley was accused of beating his neighbor Bernard A. Trickey Jr. to death with a wooden baseball bat in August 2005. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2006, but an appellate court sent the case back for a retrial. A second trial ended with a hung jury.
After deliberating for about two hours, a third jury said Mr. Oxley is not guilty of second-degree murder.
I am shocked, very grateful to the jury and to God, Mr. Oxley said in tears as he was ushered out of the courtroom by family.
Mr. Oxleys friend Frank A. Samarco shouted, Hes a free man!
I was shaking like a leaf, Mr. Oxley said. I was about to fall down.
Many supporters, including Wayne T. Oxley Sr., broke down in tears in the courtroom.
Mr. Oxleys attorney, Peter A. Dumas, Malone, said there was little that connected his client to the murder.
Very little evidence was germane, he said.
Like his client, Mr. Dumas was surprised by the jurys quick decision.
I am happy and very shocked it came back so quick, Mr. Dumas said.
As to what changed the course of the trial, he said that came when his client took the stand.
Mr. Dumas had reservations about his client testifying and advised him not to.
After I saw him testify, my reservations were washed away, he said.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen declined to comment on the verdict.
I cant comment on an acquittal, Ms. Nissen said.
Mr. Oxley said the district attorneys office has information about who killed Mr. Trickey. He said police should arrest the person who did commit the murder.
Mr. Trickeys father, Bernard A. Trickey Sr., was not in the courtroom.
Attorneys from both sides made their closing arguments earlier Thursday.
While pacing in front of the jury with his legal pad, Mr. Dumas said there was not enough evidence to prove Mr. Oxley guilty.
There has been a lot of evidence, Mr. Dumas said in closing arguments. There has not been a lot of relevant evidence.
In a detailed PowerPoint presentation, Ms. Nissen attacked the credibility of each defense witness, including Mr. Oxley.
She said Mr. Oxley allowed police to search his house and agreed to go to the police station for questioning because he wanted to look innocent.
The evidence adds up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Wayne Oxley beat Bernard Trickey to death with a baseball bat, she told the jury.
Mr. Oxleys attorney from his previous trials, Richard V. Manning, Parishville, was thrilled to hear the verdict.
Finally justice was done, but its a shame it took so long, Mr. Manning said. Ive known all along Mr. Oxley was not guilty.
Mr. Manning said the jurys quick verdict showed prosecutors had a weak case.
Mr.Dumas did one heck of a job, he said.
An alternate juror, who sat through the trial, said he was not surprised and agrees with the verdict.
Nicholas J. Vaugh said that other than his DNA on the baseball bat, prosecutors failed to put Mr. Oxley at the murder scene.
They came to a decision I thought was right, Mr. Vaugh said. At the end of the day, without a doubt, there was reasonable doubt.
Mr. Vaugh also said when prosecutors offered witnesses gifts, it hurt their credibility.
Mr. Oxley now plans to visit his children in Massena.
I have to continue to rebuild my life, he said. I want to thank the jury from the bottom of my heart.