A Dane County jury Thursday found a Fitchburg man innocent on the charge of firing 10 shots into a State Street tavern in March.
The man was acquitted by the jury of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and recklessly endangering safety after a four-day trial. A third charge, substantial battery, was dismissed earlier Thursday. The defendant hugged his attorney, Mark Eisenberg, who clapped him on the back as Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ebert read the verdicts, which were returned after about two hours of deliberation.
The defendant was accused of firing the 10 shots through a window into Stillwaters, 250 State St., after a fight at the tavern after a hip-hop open microphone event.
According to prosecutors, the defendant was angry at a rapper, who had performed a rap that expressed anger at the defendant as having started a fight that ended a rap event at another tavern.
After getting into a fight with the rapper and the rapper’s cousin, prosecutors said, the defendant went outside and fired the shots through the window toward the two other men. The cousin was grazed on the thigh by a bullet.
Assistant District Attorney Karie Cattanach told jurors in her closing argument that witnesses in the bar consistently identified the defendant as having brought a gun into the bar a short time before the shooting occurred. Gunpowder residue – found in trace amounts – indicated that the defendant had fired a gun sometime before his arrest two days after the incident, she said.
But Eisenberg, in his closing argument Thursday, questioned the reliability of the prosecution’s witnesses, many of whom were questioned about inconsistencies in what they had told police soon after the shooting and what they said on the witness stand.
“They want you to believe that everything they told police was true, but everything they said from the witness stand is false.” Eisenberg said.
He said descriptions of the man seen with the gun were so varied that there was a strong possibility that it was someone other than the defendant. He also questioned the reliability of the gunshot residue evidence.
“There is so much doubt in this case, there were so many other people that could have done this,” Eisenberg said. “There’s so much doubt in this case that you can’t possibly find him guilty.”
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