Jurors: There wasn't enough evidence to convict Carlos Riley Jr.
Posted August 16, 2015
Durham, N.C. — The jury that cleared a man charged with shooting a Durham police officer is speaking out about why the felt they had to acquit him.
During the trial of Carlos Riley Jr., the identities of the 12 men and women of the jury were not revealed. Now two jurors are speaking about the decision to find Riley not guilty of shooting the officer.
“We had a good jury,” said juror Lowell Tieszen.
Riley was accused of shooting Officer Kelly Stewart during a 2012 traffic stop. Stewart testified that Riley shot him after the two got into a fist fight. Riley said the officer shot himself accidentally during the struggle.
“We just didn't have any evidence to believe one way or the other without a doubt,” said juror Jennifer Larke.
Both Larke and Tieszen say that the state's case was weak. Larke says she wanted to see pictures of Stewart's gunshot wound, more information on gun residue, and expert testimony about the trajectory of the shot.
“We were left to guess that it must not have worked in the prosecution's favor,” said Larke of the missing evidence. “Anytime we're guessing as a jury, that's just too much doubt to send a man to prison.
The jury did find Riley guilty of one charge-common law robbery. Tieszen says that's because a witness testified to seeing Riley holding Stewart's gun after the shooting.
“Which was the reason we had to charge him,” said Tieszen.
Tieszen says now that the case has concluded, he wishes the best for both men.
“I really hope they can go forward and be productive in their lives,” said Tieszen.
Riley still will still spend time in prison. He received a 10-year sentence in federal court for a gun charge also related to this case.