After less than five hours of deliberations, a jury has found Charles Wilhite not guilty of murder in a second trial.
For the first time since his 2010 conviction, Charles Wilhite hugged family members, and held his young daughter Iesha, a free man after serving more than three years in prison.
"I feel great," Wilhite said moments after being discharged.
Moments before his release, CBS 3 cameras were the only ones rolling as the jury read their verdict to a packed courtroom.
Some family members and supporters were thrown out of the courtroom after it erupted with cheers.
Family members who publicly battled for years to get Wilhite a retrial gathered down the hall to celebrate.
"We saw a lot of efforts and our work in the community pay off as a not-guilty verdict," said Wilhite's aunt, Vira Cage.
In 2010, Wilhite was convicted of murdering Alberto Rodriguez in front of the Pine Street Market.
Last year he was granted a re-trial after a key witness recanted his statements.
Down the hall in District Attorney Mark Mastroianni's office, the mood was not so celebratory.
"As a prosecutor's office we're disappointed with the verdict, but we have to respect the jury....this case on the same set of facts, same circumstances, was a conviction, Wilhite was convicted by a jury," Mastroianni said.
But Thursday, Wilhite walked out of the courthouse as a free man, thanking his family for supporting him since his conviction.
"Thank you and I appreciate it all," he said.
Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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