Jury finds Charles Wilhite not guilty in second murder trial - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Jury finds Charles Wilhite not guilty in second murder trial

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Photo courtesy Masslive and The Republican Photo courtesy Masslive and The Republican
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

After less than five hours of deliberations, a jury has found Charles Wilhite not guilty of murder in a second trial.

For the first time since his 2010 conviction, Charles Wilhite hugged family members, and held his young daughter Iesha, a free man after serving more than three years in prison.

"I feel great," Wilhite said moments after being discharged.

Moments before his release, CBS 3 cameras were the only ones rolling as the jury read their verdict to a packed courtroom.

Some family members and supporters were thrown out of the courtroom after it erupted with cheers.

Family members who publicly battled for years to get Wilhite a retrial gathered down the hall to celebrate.

"We saw a lot of efforts and our work in the community pay off as a not-guilty verdict," said Wilhite's aunt, Vira Cage.

In 2010, Wilhite was convicted of murdering Alberto Rodriguez in front of the Pine Street Market.

Last year he was granted a re-trial after a key witness recanted his statements.

Down the hall in District Attorney Mark Mastroianni's office, the mood was not so celebratory.

"As a prosecutor's office we're disappointed with the verdict, but we have to respect the jury....this case on the same set of facts, same circumstances, was a conviction, Wilhite was convicted by a jury," Mastroianni said.

But Thursday, Wilhite walked out of the courthouse as a free man, thanking his family for supporting him since his conviction.

"Thank you and I appreciate it all," he said.

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