GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) – A jury has found a man accused of killing a St. Clair Township Police officer in 2015 not guilty of murder.
After 20 hours of deliberations over two days, the jury reached the verdict on Ray Shetler Jr.‘s fate on Friday evening.
They found Shetler not guilty on charges of first- and third-degree murder, terroristic threats and simple assault, but guilty on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.
When the verdict was read, the officer’s widow was in tears, but Shetler’s family cheered.
“Fantastic, he’s coming home,” said Shetler’s step-father Mark Porter. “Justice was served, he self-defensed himself. He’s coming home.”
Shetler hugged and thanked his defense attorney and was later led out of the courthouse in handcuffs. He said nothing to reporters.
“In a case like this, there really are no winners,” said defense attorney Marc Daffner. “Of course, we’re pleased with the verdict, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really unpleasant for both sides who have had to be brought through this.”
“We’re very disappointed in the verdict; but on the other hand, I can’t fault the jury because, obviously, they spent at least 20 hours reviewing the fairly substantial amount of evidence that was put in before them,” said Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck.
Earlier on Friday, the jury reconvened after spending nine hours deliberating on Thursday. They asked questions about deadly force and what constitutes an arrest before breaking for the night.
They had more questions Friday, asking again about justification and deadly force.
Jury, unable to determine a verdict of 1st or 3rd murder. And asked for guidance on justification of use of deadly force regarding Ray Shetler toward officer Lloyd Reed jr.
— Ross Guidotti (@RossGuidotti) February 16, 2018
Shetler is accused of killing 54-year-old Officer Lloyd Reed who responded to Shetler’s New Florence home after the 33-year-old’s girlfriend called 911 in November 2015.
Witnesses testified that Reed ordered Shetler to drop a rifle and the officer opened fire when Shetler did not comply. Shetler returned fire, striking Reed outside the officer’s bulletproof vest.
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti Reports:
During closing arguments, Daffner addressed the six men and six women on the jury, saying that Shetler was confused about who he was confronting and frightened the night he fatally shot Officer Lloyd Reed.
“Was Ray Shetler justified? Justification supersedes any degree of murder,” Daffner said. “Whether he knew if he was a police officer is simply not relevant. He’s not being charged with shooting a police officer.”
When District Attorney John Peck began his summation, he reminded the jury what Shetler said on the stand.
“The defendant admitted on the stand to trying to kill Officer Reed. I ask you to draw a reasonable common sense conclusion that the person holding that .260 rifle was holding it at the shoulder and aimed,” Peck said. “The defendant’s claim that he was firing wildly from the hip… The evidence doesn’t show that.”
Shetler testified he did not know Reed was a police officer and acted in self-defense.
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