A jury on Monday acquitted a man in the robbery-slaying of Eastern Michigan University football player Demarius Reed.
The Washtenaw County Circuit Court jury reached the not guilty verdict in the trial of Ed Thomas, 21, one of two men charged in the slaying of the 20-year-old wide receiver from Chicago.
The other man charged, Kristopher Pratt, 20, accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, testifying that he shot Reed and Thomas participated in the Oct. 18 robbery.
The jury acquitted Thomas on open murder, armed robber and conspiracy charges.
"I'm surprised and disappointed," Ypsilanti police Lt. Thomas Eberts, one of the lead investigators of the killing, told The Ann Arbor News. "I believe we had the right person."
In closing arguments Monday, Assistant Prosecutor Nimish Ganatra said Thomas was just as guilty as the admitted triggerman, Pratt, who was a key witness against Thomas.
Ganatra said Thomas spotted Reed and pointed him out to Pratt. Thomas handed Pratt the gun that he used to kill Reed, Ganatra said.
"They knew exactly what they were getting into, they knew exactly what they were doing," Ganatra said.
After Pratt shot Reed once in the chest, Thomas stole Reed's wallet and phone, then Pratt shot Reed again in the face, Ganatra said.
But Defense lawyer Lorne Brown argued that the case rested on false testimony by Pratt. Thomas was just hanging out with Pratt the night of the killing and wasn't part of the crime, Brown said.
"He's got the deal of a lifetime," Brown said. "He was offered the chance to trade in his entire life in prison, and all he had to do was lie on Ed Thomas."
Brown acknowledged that his client witnessed the killing and didn't report it.
"On the other hand, he didn't involve himself with what Kristopher Pratt did," the defense lawyer said. "The prosecution didn't prove that. Most importantly, he didn't do it."