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Man found not guilty in shooting death outside Fargo bar

March 28, 2022 GMT

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A man accused in the shooting death of another man outside a Fargo bar last summer was found not guilty Monday following about nine hours of jury deliberation over two days.

Raymond Gunn, 40, was charged with murder in the July 24 shooting of 41-year-old Eric Hayes after an altercation in an alley between the Bison Turf bar and a convenience store on the North Dakota State University campus.

Defense attorneys argued that Gunn acted in survival and self-defense, noting that Hayes was armed with a knife. Prosecutors blamed Gunn for being the aggressor and starting the fight. Officials say Gunn and Hayes didn’t know each other before the incident and it’s still unclear what lead to their argument, KVLY-TV reported.

The case went to the jury on Friday and no deliberations were held over the weekend.

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“Shock. Happiness,” defense attorney Nicole Bredahl said outside the courtroom Monday, describing her client’s reaction. “This has been a long eight months, a long weekend waiting for a verdict. A lot of happiness. Just a lot of relief after a long wait for him.”

The state’s medical examiner had said Hayes had a small amount of methamphetamine in his system at the time he died, as well as a blood alcohol level almost two times the legal limit for driving.

Police and a witness testified that Gunn and a friend that Gunn played pool with at the bar stayed around after the shooting and were calm and cooperative with authorities. Gunn’s attorneys said it showed that he was not a murderer.

Gunn faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.