(BEDFORD) - 26-year-old Joshua Patton, of Oolitic was found not guilty of rape.
Tears ran down his face as the verdict was read in Lawrence Superior Court I Thursday afternoon.
His wife and family members also cried when the not guilty verdict was read.
The woman, who accused Patton of raping her at her home in Avoca, also sobbed when the verdict was read. Her family and friends were also in the courtroom.
"We are comfortable with our charging decision and preceding to trial," Lawrence County Prosecutor Michelle Woodward said after the verdict was delivered. "We respect the jury's decision and the hard work they put into this case. Certain cases need to be tried by a jury and this one of them," she said. "From the get-go there was no negotiating or plea deals."
The accused and his family refused to comment as they left the courtroom.
During closing arguments, Woodward said the case against Patton was whether or not he forced the woman to have sex, and Woodward contends he did. She added the defendant admitted, during a police interview, that the woman told him no and that she didn't want to have sex.
Patton stopped at the woman's home in February 2010 to inquire about buying a tool box and when the two went into her home to exchange phone numbers. He said they talked for about 30 minutes, and he asked for a hug. That led to them kissing and then having sex inside the house. At the time, Patton was 24 and the woman was 32.
"I am very thankful the jury did the right thing," said Defense attorney Lorinda Youngcourt after hugging her client.
During closing argument Youngcourt asked jurors to use their common sense. She told the jury, had the sex not been consensual, the woman would have suffered bruising and items would have been knocked off the top of a TV.
Youngcourt said Patton, who has a learning disability, didn't confess, but was confused by police questioning, and eventually told Lawrence County Police Department Detective Jim Slone what he wanted to hear.
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