ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) — Ed Thomas, 21, has been found not guilty on charges of open murder and robbery in the shooting death of 20-year-old Eastern Michigan University football player Demarius Reed.
A Washtenaw County jury rendered the verdict after several hours of deliberation — much to the elation of public defender Lorne Brown.
“I’m very pleased,” Brown said. “I thought the jury came to the proper verdict given the case that was presented by the prosecution.”
In closing arguments Monday, Assistant Prosecutor Nimish Ganatra said Thomas is just as guilty as the admitted triggerman, Kristopher Pratt, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified against Thomas.
Ganatra said Thomas spotted Reed, a 20-year-old wide receiver from Chicago, and pointed him out to Pratt. Thomas handed Pratt, 20, the gun that he used to kill Reed, Ganatra said.
“They knew exactly what they were getting into, they knew exactly what they were doing,” Ganatra said.
After Pratt shot Reed once in the chest, Thomas stole Reed’s wallet and phone, then Pratt shot Reed again in the face, Ganatra said.
Brown said the case hangs on false testimony by Pratt. Thomas was just hanging out with Pratt the night of the killing and wasn’t part of the crime, Brown said.
“They were friends who had gone out to have a good time and one of them — Mr. Pratt — decided that he wanted to do his own thing,” Brown said. “No one was expecting it, certainly not my client.”
Pratt agreed to a reduced charge of second-degree murder and in exchange testified against Thomas, who had refused to make a deal with prosecutors.
“He wanted to put the matter in the jury’s hands,” Brown said. “He did and it worked out.”
“Nothing is going to give them their son back — absolutely this is a tragedy,” Brown said. “That’s going to be placed right at the feet of Mr. Pratt, who decided that society’s rules don’t apply to him.”
“He’s got the deal of a lifetime,” Brown said. “He was offered the chance to trade in his entire life in prison, and all he had to do was lie on Ed Thomas.”
TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.