Evan Donard Winston, 22, of Carrollton had been jailed since Sept. 9, 2011, when he turned himself in to authorities for the shooting death of 21-year-old Kevin Woods.
Woods was shot on Sept. 2, 2011, while he and his brother, Branden Woods, and a University of West Georgia student, Egim Etta-Tawo, sat in a vehicle in the parking lot of the Chateau Apartments on Hays Mill Road in Carrollton.
Etta-Tawo allegedly set up a drug deal between Winston and Woods, who was shot with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol about 3 p.m.
Shortly after the shooting, Winston fled in a car with an unknown male, who police later identified as Roudolphe Germain Jr.
After turning himself in a week later, Winston asked the public not to rush to judgment until they heard all the facts.
In October 2011, he was indicted by a Carroll County grand jury on one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of conspiracy to violate the Georgia controlled substances, and one count of the possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Germain and Etta-Tawo also were charged.
On March 1, Winston took the stand on his own behalf and testified that his gun was accidentally fired during a struggle with Etta-Tawo, which prompted Germain to fire the fatal shots.
Etta-Tawo was given a deal to testify against Winston. Germain agreed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a 15-year sentence.
On March 5, a 12-member jury issued a verdict of not guilty on the charges of malice murder and felony murder.
Winston’s attorney, Mawuli Mel Davis of the Davis Bozeman law firm in Decatur, said the jury listened, followed the law, and justice was served.
“We are grateful that the jury realized what we have believed all along – that Mr. Winston is an innocent young man who placed himself in a dangerous situation,” Davis said.
Winston was released on bond to appear for a sentencing hearing for the nonviolent offenses for which the jury convicted him.