A Fayette Circuit Court jury on Wednesday night found Jefferey Charles Morris not guilty of murder in the 2014 shooting death of Anthony "Tone" Carter.
The seven women and five men on the jury deliberated for about 4½ hours before returning their verdict.
An unidentified daughter of Carter wept aloud after the verdict was announced. "That's my daddy! That's my daddy!" she cried as she left the courtroom.
There was no testimony about the motive for the shooting. Morris did not testify during the three-day trial.
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"It's obviously very disappointing," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kimberly Baird. "But we have to respect the jury's verdict."
"I guess my first reaction is that there really are no winners and no losers in this case," said defense attorney Robin Slater. "At the end of the day, we have a man who passed away, so I feel for his family, especially his daughter who was so upset leaving the courtroom. I obviously have a lot of compassion for them, and this process has to be incredibly difficult for them."
Carter, 47, was found shot to death in the 400 block of Chestnut Street shortly after 5:30 a.m. June 11, 2014. He had been shot once in the back and was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Carter had moved to Lexington from Michigan about six months earlier to pursue a better life.
Before the jury began deliberating Wednesday, jurors heard conflicting testimony about the whereabouts of Morris at the time of the shooting.
Slater said in her closing argument that Morris, 31, was in Louisville with an employer shortly after 5:30 a.m., but prosecutors said he was murdering Carter in Lexington at that time.
Slater told jurors that the commonwealth's three witnesses tying Morris to the crime lacked credibility and that two of them were addicts.
Witnesses Mary Miller and Ashley White live "difficult lives," Slater said.
Charlie Wells, the third witness tying Morris to the crime, said he'd never given the statements police said he did in 2014.
One witness, Deborah Hardin, testified Wednesday that Morris was in Louisville at the time of the shooting. He helped her complete an inventory for her business, which sells supplies to barber shops, Hardin said.
But Baird said there is no proof Morris was in Louisville with Hardin, and that it was her word against the three witnesses' that put Morris in Lexington at the time of the murder.
When Morris was arrested in Arizona in November 2014, detectives found falsified identification cards in his duffel bag.
Slater acknowledged Morris fled after he found out he was charged. He was scared, but that did not make him guilty, Slater said.
Baird said innocent people do not flee and create false document after being charged with murder.