Richard Scrushy has been found not guilty of all counts brought against him. Leaving the courthouse a relieved Scrushy said "I want to give all the glory to God" and called the trial "two years of torture."
Scrushy went on to thank his family, attorneys, and gave special thanks to local church members. "I want to thank the pastors and all of our prayer partners and bishops...They believed in us. They prayed for us."
Scrushy, his voice filled with emotion, said,"I don't understand why people are so critical. What's happened...Jesus taught us to love one another...You don't know who's next. You don't know who's going to be attacked next." Scrushy proclaimed at the end of his mini-statement, "There are a lot of wrongs that need to be made right."
The verdict was read in a courtroom filled with church members and Scrushy friends. Ministers from Guiding Light Church were seen crying as the counts and verdicts were read. Scrushy hugged attorney Donald Watkins.
Bishop Jim Lowe of Guiding Light Church told reporters afterward,"He's vindicated. We believed in his innocence...The state presented its case...Richard Scrushy was judged innocent." Lowe says Scrushy told him,"I did not know what these people were doing."
One of Scrushy's attorneys, Jim Parkman of Dothan, said he was "scared to death" before the verdict was read. However, after coming out of the courthouse, Parkman said, "I'm just elated. Thank goodness it's over... Not bad for a bunch of hicks."
Parkman says Scrushy hasn't indicated what he will do next. "We came in with one defendant, one client, one friend. He's not guilty and we're going home."
Parkman says the Scrushy team is concerned about security after a man outside the courthouse was taken by federal marshals. Parkman says the man handcuffed by federal officers had a gun.
Prosecutor Alice Martin says,"We are disappointed in this verdict....I 'm shocked at today's verdict. We had five CEOs that had conversations with him."
Martin says she will be interested to hear feedback from the jury. "This was a very complex case...I need to know what they had issues with." Martin added the"loss is for the victims of the fraud."
Some jurors met with reporters and commented they felt the witnesses were not credible. One juror is quoted by the AP as saying, "The smoking gun wasn't pointing toward Mr. Scrushy."
Scrushy has said in the past he would like to return as head of HealthSouth, he made no comment on that Tuesday, but attorney Arthur Leach said that "Richard Scrushy thinks of HealthSouth as his fourth child." Leach added if board members and stockholders wanted Scrushy to play a part in the company, he's sure it would be considered.
However, according to the BBC , Bob May, HealthSouth chairman says, "Under no circumstances will Mr. Scrushy be offered any position within the company." According to the same report May says the board and management remain "appalled" by the fraud.
Scrushy may not be through with the legal process yet. Prosecutors say they will proceed with appeals to the 11th Circuit Court over charges that were thrown out by Judge Karon Bowdre, including perjury charges. Scrushy also faces civil charges and attorney Arthur Leach says he will "litigate those cases aggressively."
The prosecution charged that Scrushy knew of around $2.7 billion in inflated earnings reported by Health South.