WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's a huge sigh of relief from a man who always said he was innocent. Mitchell Oakes was first found not guilty by a federal jury of planting a bomb in Franklin. Now the state charges against the one-time suspect in this high-profile case have been dropped.
This is a classic case of "Who dunnit?" And, Mitchell Oakes didn't. So, the question now is: Who did plant the explosive?
Back in 2016, police responded to a report of an explosive at a senior care facility in Williamson County. People in the facility had to be evacuated. Later, Oakes was arrested and charged with planting a pipe bomb -- which did not detonate -- in his estranged wife's car.
"The opening statement of the government was the estranged wife was supposed to die that day ... and that our client almost got away with murder," said Oakes' attorney David Komisar before his client went to trial.
Oakes was tried in federal court, where 93 percent of all cases end with convictions. But his lawyers offered proof that someone other than their client planted the bomb.
"We believe he was framed," Komisar said. After a three week trial in 2018 -- the jury found Oakes not guilty. He walked out of jail after nearly two years behind bars.
But that wasn't the end of it. Prosecutors in Williamson County then decided to arrest him for attempted murder on the bomb case. A different charge, but the same set of facts.
"He was crushed, broken-hearted and said what else do I have to do," Komisar said.
But just this week -- state prosecutors suddenly just dismissed the charges, and for the first time since his arrest four years ago, Oakes is finally speaking out.
"I never planted any bomb," Oakes said.
Newschannel 5 talked to him by phone in east Tennessee.
Oakes says it's all an incredible relief. "Words cannot explain it, Oaks said. "It's like a whole load has been lifted off of me. It's so nice not to be able to not have to worry about the GPS device or worry about anything more permanent. It's over."
For Oakes it may be over. But, this doesn't close the case. As things stand, the question of who planted the potentially deadly pipe bomb remains unanswered.
Prosecutors in Williamson County made the decision to dismiss the charges against Oakes to comply with an order from the federal judge on the availability of evidence.