After twice telling a judge it was deadlocked, a Toronto jury Friday morning acquitted a man of first-degree murder in the 2002 death of security guard Rhoan Gooden.
Richard Emile Newman, 40, hugged his lawyer, Don McLeod after the foreman said not guilty.
But the verdict does not mean Newman walks free. He is serving a 12-year sentence in the United States after a gun battle with U.S. Marshals in New York. They were acting on a tip he was in a Brooklyn apartment building after his mugshot was broadcast on America’s Most Wanted as someone wanted for shooting a married father of two on the floor of a Toronto nightclub on the Danforth.
He has about four years left in that sentence. Nonetheless, “my client is very happy,” McLeod said.
“This was a difficult case. They came back twice and said they couldn’t make a decision.” Jurors had deliberated for four days after hearing evidence for eight weeks. Newman did not testify in his own defence.
Defence co-counsel Monte MacGregor said the case came down to two independent witnesses, one in and one outside the club, who confirmed the shot was fired at a time when surveillance cameras showed Newman had left the club.
The Crown argued the shot was fired earlier by Newman, who had argued with Gooden about wearing a headband inside the club. Gooden’s wife, Betty Crawley, said it was going to be very difficult to tell her two children, now 16 and 14, about the outcome. “How do I tell them ‘your dad died and no one is being held responsible?’ ”
Gooden, who was 32, was kind-hearted, gentle man who was an “amazing father,” she said. “My son looks exactly like his dad and my daughter has his smile. I still see him in them but I wish he was in their lives.”