CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A jury has found Kenan Gay not guilty of second degree murder in the death of Bobby Kingston on Friday.
The former Charlotte Law School student was charged with second-degree murder for pushing Bobby Kingston into oncoming traffic following a March 3, 2012 dispute at Ed's Tavern.
The verdict comes on the third day of deliberations and ends a weeks-long legal battle that garnered a lot of media attention. Jury members deliberated about nine-and-a-half hours before reaching a verdict.
Both men had been drinking at Ed’s Tavern on Park Road that night around 10:30 p.m. After talking with Gay’s girlfriend several times, Kingston attempted to kiss her.
Gay witnessed the incident and pushed Kingston out of the bar’s front door. He then fell into the street was hit and killed by a passing car.
Kay did not speak Friday afternoon but his attorney David Rudolf addressed the media after the verdict. Ruldolf said Gay panicked after seeing a body in the street and the night came down to defending someone he cares about.
"We're not here to sort of say we won and the Kingston family lost because everybody lost in this case, and especially the Kingston family," he said. "You put any of us, especially us men, in that situation, and who's not going to react and try to do something to help their loved one?"
He said the lessons learned from this are drinking to excess in never a healthy choice and bars need to pay closer attention when it comes to serving intoxicated patrons.
Rudolf told the jury during testimony that Kingston was seriously drunk and asserted that he stumbled into the road after Gay pushed him.
"Mr. Kingston just couldn't stop. Why? Because of the power of Kenan Gay. He couldn't stop because he had a .29 and there was no way Kenan Gay could have known that," he said.
Rudolph used photographs and testimony from some of the state's own witnesses to try and show that Gay didn't walk the victim all the way out into the street, but stopped in the middle of the parking lot instead.
He told jurors this was an accident.
Prosecutors told jurors not to buy that, saying this was no accident and that Gay did not show any respect for human life.
"He threw him into the street without any regard as to what might happen; if he used excessive force then he can't claim accident," said Prosecutor Jay Ashendorf.