MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The jury has found former Rutherford County sheriff's detective Ron Killings not guilty of reckless homicide.
Police charged Killings with hitting and killing 11-year-old Lakeisha White with his unmarked squad car in July 2008.
Deliberations began around 5:20 p.m. Thursday after closing arguments. The jury deliberated for just under an hour.
After the verdict Lakeisha's aunt Kim Coleman was too upset to talk. Killings also left the courtroom without comment.
"We're delighted for Ron and his family right now," said Rutherford County Sheriff Truman Jones. "We're very happy with the verdict.
"He is relieved. It's been a long, long journey for him. It's been an uphill battle. It's been a long time since he's gotten some good news, to be honest with you. It's his birthday. It's been a great birthday present for him," said Killings' attorney Terry Fann.
Killings testified on his own behalf earlier in the day.
Killings was visibly upset during his tearful testimony. He said after that the impact, "I stayed there and at that point I was looking at her. I couldn't do anything for her."
He testified he first ran to the front of his vehicle, then the back looking for her – when he saw where she had been thrown to the side of the road.
"I wish he would just tell the truth because he tore our family apart," said Lakeisha's aunt Kim Coleman before the verdict.
The prosecution said Killings was driving more than twice the posted speed limit on Bradyville Pike. Killings testified that he was responding to a call for back-up in the area. He said his squad car was in stealth mode, meaning his lights and siren were not turned on.
Killings faces two more charges, one for tampering with evidence and one for giving a false statement.
The special prosecutor will decide in the next few weeks whether to move forward with other charges.