Cheron Shelton, a man accused of opening fire at people attending a Pennsylvania barbecue in 2016, killing six, including an unborn baby, was found not guilty by a jury on Friday.
Prosecutors had claimed the massacre was in retaliation for the killing of Shelton’s friend in 2013. They accused Shelton of opening fire at a crowd of about 30 people at a backyard cookout in Wilkinsburg.
Five adults and one child, the unborn baby of a 25-year-old woman who was eight months pregnant, all died. Four people were wounded.
Robert Thomas, 31, accused of being Shelton’s accomplice saw prosecutors drop all charges against him. Reportedly a key witness—or witness number three as he’s being referred to—lost credibility after he recently admitted to murdering a baby at a picnic in 2013. Thomas had been accused of firing at the group—driving them into Shelton’s line of fire according to KDKA2.
Then there were the defense’s allegations of a witness being paid in order to deliver a fabricated testimony against Shelton.
“They built a case around him without any solid evidence, and focused on him without, as it was described by the media, the case was a house of cards,” said Shelton’s defense attorney Wendy Williams according to KDKA2.
Families of both the victims and the defendants were admonished by Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini to keep their emotions under control, especially when the verdict would be read out loud. After four days of deliberations, the jury came to a verdict on Friday at 11:50 a.m.: Cheron Shelton was found not guilty on all counts.
However, Shelton’s bond will be revoked until other court matters are being taken care of, and the prior gag order concerning defendants and attorneys was also lifted.
After Judge finished reading the verdict exonerating Shelton, both camps shed tears; one for joy the other on agony. But as soon as the doors opened and the crowd streamed into the lobby, Jessica Shelton (unrelated to Cheron Shelton), mother of three of the victims lashed out before the assembled press, venting her dismay.
“They set both of them free, So now he got the chance to kill us all,” she shouted. “When I’m dead, McKinney (Shelton’s attorney) is to blame,” TribLive reported.
“It seemed to me that Mr. Shelton was a suspect early on without much evidence to corroborate that, and they narrowed in and focused in on him without following any other leads. I think they did that to their detriment,” said Shelton’s defense attorney Randall McKinney according to KDKA2.