Jury returns not guilty verdict for 2012 Tigerland murder trial

Jury returns not guilty verdict for 2012 Tigerland murder trial
Tressie Newberry (Source: EBRSO)
Tressie Newberry (Source: EBRSO)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A jury returned a not guilty verdict for a Baton Rouge man who was accused of a 2012 murder that happened in the Tigerland-area.

"We respect the jury's decision and hard work," said 19th JDC District Attorney Hillar Moore. "We believe that we presented a strong case but the jury found otherwise. Our sympathy goes out to the family."

The victim, Brandon Harris, was killed during a shooting on Sharlo Ave on April 15, 2012. Investigators believed the motive for the shooting was a drug-related robbery and quickly identified three suspects.

Tressie Newberry and Jennifer Prine were both arrested roughly a month after the shooting. The third suspect, Mason Chiapuzio, was the accused gunman.

A grand jury chose not to indict Prine and rendered no true bill.

Newberry, however, went to trial on Sept. 23, 2015 and was found guilty. She was sentenced to life in prison without the benefit of parole.

Chiapuzio, who was only 19-years-old at the time of the shooting, has remained out of jail for the majority of the time the case has worked its way through the legal system.

After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Chiapuzio was located by U.S. Marshals in Michigan. He was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison in August 2013 and was released on bond in February 2014.

The trial started Monday, May 16, 2016 in Judge Higginbotham's courtroom. The jury began deliberating at noon on Friday. They returned a not guilty verdict shortly before 5 p.m.

"I am proud of the effort that my office devoted to this case," Moore added.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.