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Caryn Kelley: Not guilty!

NEED TO KNOW
  • Jurors take less than two hours to clear her of manslaughter charge in death of boyfriend
  • Kelley gave several different explanations for the shooting, according to prosecutors
  • The defense said Phillip Peatross accidentally shot himself
Caryn Kelley not guilty of manslaughter in the death of boyfriend Phillip Peatross.

Caryn Kelley trial: 29 evidence photos

Caryn Kelley trial: 29 evidence photos

Woman insists boyfriend's death was an accident

Woman insists boyfriend's death was an accident

It took jurors less than two hours to decide that Caryn Kelley wasn't at fault for the death of her boyfriend Phillip Peatross. The 48-year-old Florida woman was facing a possible 30 years in prison for manslaughter.

When reporters asked her what was next for her life, she told them, "I'm going to Disney World!"

Kelley's supporters, including her father and sisters, were ecstatic over the not guilty verdict. One of her sisters, Cheryl, wept tears of joy.

Jurors began deliberations Tuesday evening after six days of testimony in the case. They chose to work late into the night instead of start fresh the next morning. The major question they had to answer was who pulled the trigger when Peatross was fatally shot.

In closing arguments, Kelley’s defense attorney called Peatross’ death a tragedy, not a crime. But prosecutors said the father of four didn’t deserve to die that night, and that it was Kelley who had her finger on the trigger when he was shot.

What both sides agree on is that the couple had been drinking and fighting on July 27, 2011. Around midnight, Kelley told Peatross to leave her home. Later that morning, at around 4 a.m., he returned.

Kelley says he caused her alarm to chime when he opened the door. But a neighbor testified earlier in the trial that she never heard the alarm chime when going into Kelley’s house to take care of her dog.

Kelley says she grabbed the gun for protection, fearing Peatross was an intruder. When he entered her room, Kelley says he tried to take the gun away from her, pointing it to his head and accidentally firing it in the struggle. But prosecutors say that when the 911 operator asked Kelley if Peatross had shot himself, she said no, it was an accident and referred to it as self-defense.

Read more: Who’s who in the Caryn Kelley trial

The medical examiner who worked the case testified that the gun was about three to six inches from Peatross’ cheek when it fired. She said this was inconsistent with a suicide and ruled his manner of death a homicide.

Read more: Get a peek inside the Caryn Kelley case files

But a former medical examiner who testified for the defense says the gun was about an inch from Peatross’ head when he was shot. The defense was also able to bolster the suicide theory with an incident that happened in 2006, when Peatross was involuntarily committed after threatening to kill himself in front of his ex-wife.

Not a single witness or expert out of the 36 who got on the stand was able to say for certain who had a finger on the trigger -- that was up to the jurors to debate in the deliberation room.

Read more: Caryn Kelley breaks down in front of jurors

Kelley never took the stand in her own defense, even though her attorney said in opening statements that she was "anxious" to tell jurors her side of the story.

With reporting by In Session’s John Alleva.

Stay with HLNtv.com for complete coverage of Kelley's trial.

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Get a peek inside the Caryn Kelley case files
Caryn Kelley | See all 21 items Get a peek inside the Caryn Kelley case files

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