24 year old Maxwell Wyant looked very different Friday than he did in his mug shot, taken shortly after the February shooting. He sat quietly with a tear streaming down his face as the jury returned a not guilty verdict. The family of 21 year old Christopher "CJ" Schoen, shocked and overcome with emotion, poured out of the courtroom shortly after the verdict was read.
Emotions were high throughout the trial. The jury spent two days deliberating, deciding whether or not Wyant fired in self defense or intended to kill his former roommate. The prosecution argued Wyant hated Schoen and told friends he was going to kill him. They said he intended to kill Schoen when he shot him, "we felt he was guilty," said Assistant District Attorney Michael Harrigan. Harrigan was stunned by the jury's verdict, "anytime we give the case to the jury you know don't know what's going to come,you'd like to think you have a strong case but it's their decision and we have to live with their decision."
The jury sided with the defense's argument that Schoen was high on bath salts, suicidal, and looking for a fight when he showed up at the Brighton home unannounced. They say Wyant was forced to defend himself. Defense attorney James Nobles backed that claim by calling the medical examiner to the stand who testified Schoen had traces of the drug in his urine, "I'm pleased for my client and for his family it's been a long journey for all of us and I'm very thankful for the jury I know that they worked hard," said Nobles. Nobles said his case was strong from the beginning and the jury made the right choice, "I was anticipating that this was a likely outcome from the beginning and if I thought he was guilty we wouldn't have gone to trial," explained Nobles.
Wyant was released from jail Friday night after spending nearly a year behind bars on the murder charges.