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Brighton man accused of murder found not guilty

Posted at: 12/07/2012 4:41 PM
Updated at: 12/07/2012 11:17 PM

After deliberating for two days, a jury has found a Brighton man not guilty of murdering his former roommate.

Maxwell Wyant, a 23-year-old from Brighton, has been acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of his 21-year-old former roommate, C.J. Schoen, back in February. Wyant had been charged with second degree murder, first and second manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

The jury reached its verdict around 4:30pm Friday, after deliberating for more than ten hours over two days. The jury made several requests for read backs, including hearing testimony again and definitions.

It was an emotional scene in the courtroom as the verdict was read. The victim's mother ran out of the courtroom crying, followed by other family members. The Wyatt family was emotional as well.

Schoen's mother, Valerie Cottrell, tells News10NBC that she believes "a monster" is now on the streets.

Cottrell says, "When they first came out I thought we would have a conviction, I truly did believe that."

Cottrell says she sat in the courtroom Friday afternoon expecting the jury to convict Wyant of murdering her son. With her family and friends by her side she listened as the jury told the judge their decision.

"But when they kept reading and they found him not guilty we were completely shocked," says Cottrell. "It was a travesty."

Wyant claimed he was defending himself against Schoen, who was accused of being high on bath salts, and the jury ultimately agreed. Schoen's family says they just can't make sense of the verdict.

"He was shot in the back," says Schoen's step-father Jim Cottrell. "To me, I don't understand how somebody can claim self defense. You shoot somebody in the back and the person is on their cell phone calling the police."

Schoen's mother told News10NBC that she feels justice has not been served and says the last ten months have been bad.

"It's been awful," says Valerie. "I've been in counseling and it's helping, but it doesn't replace a child."

Wyant was released from jail Friday afternoon after being behind bars for almost a year. He and his family had no comment about the verdict, but his attorney told News10NBC they are obviously pleased with the outcome.