A jury found John E. Schneider not guilty of the charges of kidnapping with bodily harm, rape, aggravated anal sodomy and two counts of aggravated sexual battery in a quiet courtroom Friday afternoon in Liberty County Superior Court.
They did find him guilty of lesser charges that resulted in sentences of 10 years in prison, but also found Schneider not guilty on one count of theft by taking.
"Your honor I want to thank you for a fair trail," Schneider said to Superior Court Judge Paul Rose after the verdict. "My name is the most important thing to me and I've saved that so I want to thank you."
It took the jury an hour and 20 minutes to reach the verdict.
Schneider was facing the possibility of three life sentences without the possibility of parole if he was found guilty of the more serious charges.
Schneider was found guilty of false imprisonment, one count of theft by taking (jewelry) and one count of terroristic threats. Rose sentenced Schneider to 10 years in confinement.
Schneider has been in Liberty County Region Jail since his arrest back in February 2007.
Georgia Public Defenders Chief Conflict Defender Stephen Yekel, said his client was well aware of the risk of a jury trial, but said his client proclaimed his innocence of the greater charges since the beginning.
"Mr. Schneider felt like he was not guilty of the serious sexual charges that were leveled against him," Yekel said. "And he was adamant that he wanted to go before the jury and present the facts to a jury.”
Yekel thinks there was sufficient reasonable doubt in the state's case.
"There were things that should have be done by the police department that would have established one way or the other."
The full story will be in Sunday's Courier.