A jury has acquitted an Arkansas man of second-degree battery in the death of an Oklahoma police officer during a bar fight in Little Rock.
The panel of eight women and four men deliberated for about 90 minutes Wednesday before finding Aaron Glenn Threlkeld not guilty, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/vGUB1E ) Thursday.
Threlkeld, of Sheridan, was accused of throwing a punch that knocked Elzie Cain unconscious at the Electric Cowboy nightclub in September 2010. Cain, a police officer from Ardmore, Okla., who was in Little Rock for Oklahoma National Guard sniper training, fell to the ground and fractured his skull.
Threlkeld was not charged with anything more serious than battery because prosecutors said they couldn't prove he acted with murderous intent.
Prosecutors argued Threlkeld hit Cain out of jealousy over a woman. They said he butted in when he spotted his former girlfriend dancing with Cain, and then hit him in the face unprovoked.
However, Threlkeld testified that he hit Cain in self-defense when Cain started to swing at him.
"I don't remember dodging. I just remember throwing a punch," Threlkeld said. "It happened so fast I didn't expect anything to happen."
He acknowledged he was uncomfortable watching his ex-girlfriend dance with Cain but said authorities were quick to paint him as a spurned lover.
In his closing statement, deputy prosecutor Will Jones told jurors to judge Threlkeld not on what he told them but what he had done that night.
"We put it up for a decision to 12 members of the community and they gave their verdict," Jones told The Associated Press on Thursday. "We don't have anything to add other than that."
Threlkeld's attorney, Patrick Benca, didn't immediately return a message left seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com