Keene Not Guilty on All Counts
ELDORADO, TX — An Eldorado jury found Michael Gary Keene not guilty on all counts late Monday night.
Both the prosecution and defense rested after closing arguments at around 5 p.m. Judge Barbara Walther kept the Schleicher County jurors, who were hearing a Tom Green County case due to pre-trail publicity, after 5 p.m. and asked them to deliberate.
It took the jurors about five hours to reach a not guilty verdict. The court fed the jurors while they were still in deliberation. At 10 p.m. Judge Walther was going to send them home. The jury foreman requested a few more minutes.
At 10:15 p.m. the jury handed the judge a note. Not guilty on all counts, it read. In the courtroom, friends and family of Michael Keene were seated on the right side. On the left side of the room were friends and family of the victim, Gisele Jarmon, who was a mentally disabled 23-year-old black woman, were situated. Judge Walther commanded those in the courtroom to not display emotion when the verdict was read.
Regardless, when the final words “not guilty” were spoken by the judge, one of Garmin’s family members shouted out, “He’s white. He got away with it!”
Defense attorney J.W. Johnson was successful in sowing enough doubt in the San Angelo Police Department’s lead detective’s case that the jury could not convict. Friday, Johnson skewered Detective Chris Soto for subjectively approaching Keene as a criminal instead of looking at all angles to arrive at filing an objective case for the grand jury.
Johnson noted that friends of Keene had corroborated Keene's statements during a seven-hour interrogation at police headquarters. “But you didn’t want to believe them either,” Johnson chided Soto. “Does 22 years on the police force make you that cynical?”
The 119th DA John Best seemed hampered by the San Angelo Police Department investigation throughout the trial. Judge Walther threw out key evidence, including all of Keene's cell phone records and the shattered windshield of the car Keene was said to have been driving that night.
Keene was facing two charges: Manslaughter and Accident involving death. Keene was acquitted on both charges by an Eldorado jury Monday night.
Yantis Green is reporting from Eldorado later tonight.