PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The jury has reached a verdict in the Wilkinsburg mass shooting trial.
On Friday, day four of deliberations, the jury found Cheron Shelton not guilty of murder just before noon.
Shelton was the lone defendant accused of killing five people and an unborn baby at a 2016 cookout in Wilkinsburg.
The jury was tasked with deciding if Shelton was innocent or guilty of first degree murder or third degree murder.
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KDKA’s Amy Wadas was in the courtroom when the verdict was read, and she said you could feel the emotion.
WATCH: KDKA’s Amy Wadas reports live
Family members of the victims were holding tissues, sobbing and crying when they heard the verdict.
Around a dozen sheriff’s deputies stood in the courtroom just in case there were any outbursts, but everyone left peacefully. Meantime, Shelton’s attorneys say they fought long and hard to get the death penalty off the table.
Shelton’s family members at first appeared serious as everyone filed back into the courtroom, but KDKA’s Amy Wadas reports they were relieved when he was acquitted.
Shelton’s attorney Wendy Williams said her client became emotional when he heard a not guilty verdict read in the courtroom.
“He asked me if he was allowed to cry and I told him that he was,” said Williams. “He looked back at his mother and his family who were also crying and he just said ‘I’m going to see my boys, I’m going to see my boys.’”
The judge did say Shelton’s bond will be revoked until other matters of the court will be taken care of. A gag order was previously in place, but it will now be lifted.
WATCH: Shelton’s Defense Attorneys React To Not Guilty Verdict
The trial began with two suspects, the charges dropped against Robert Thomas after one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, only identified as “witness three” allegedly admitted to the murder of a baby in a separate case involving a shooting at a picnic in the East Hills in 2013 that claimed the life of a toddler.
There was also an ongoing back-and-forth between prosecutors and Shelton’s defense attorneys who claimed a witness told them he was paid to fabricate information about Shelton.
WATCH: Robert Thomas’ Defense Attorneys Speak After Shelton’s Acquittal
Prosecutors have denied any misconduct.
“They built a case around him without any solid evidence, and focused on him without, as it was described by the media, the case was a house of cards,” said Chelton’s defense attorney Wendy Williams.
Talking to Thomas’ defense attorneys, they say it was a team effort between them and Shelton’s lawyers, Wendy Williams and Randall McKinney, to get charges against Thomas dropped and Shelton acquitted.
“It seemed to me that Mr. Shelton was a suspect early on without much evidence to corroborate that, and they narrowed in and focused in on him without following any other leads. I think they did that to their detriment,” said Shelton’s defense attorney McKinney.
WATCH: KDKA’s Shelby Cassesse Reports Live From Outside The Allegheny County Courthouse
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released a statement, saying in full:
I would first like to thank the members of this jury who clearly put a good deal of thought and consideration into their final decision.
I would also like to thank the friends and family members of the victims for the dignity they have shown in the face of unspeakable loss and heartache.
It is very difficult for the police and my office to investigate and prosecute crimes when the number of witnesses is limited.
That said, the members of law enforcement in this county and the members of my office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute all criminal activity that takes place. We owe that much to victims and to public safety generally.