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Jurors: There wasn't enough evidence to convict Carlos Riley Jr.

Posted August 16, 2015

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— 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.

6 Comments

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  • Anne Havisham Aug 17, 2015
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    Thank you, Mr. Kerstetter.

  • Peter Kerstetter Aug 17, 2015
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    What, trial by jury?
    Part of the process is convincing 12 people. Two of the jurors said that the state had a weak case. That is reasonable doubt in my book, thus the jury did its job.

  • Peter Kerstetter Aug 17, 2015
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    As I understand things, he isn't being charged with the same crime in the same incident, but there is a different set of laws at the federal level that he violated that he wasn't put on trial for at the state level. Thus, it isn't double jeopardy.

  • J.w. Thompson Aug 17, 2015
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    Only in Durham!!

  • Anne Havisham Aug 17, 2015
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    I do not understand how a person can be sentenced to prison by a federal court, then be tried by state court for the same incident.

    Was he tried by different courts for different crimes allegedly committed during the same incident?

    If not, it sounds like double jeopardy to me.

  • Paul Stroud Aug 17, 2015
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    How elegant. Let me guess, you've never sat on a jury before?