KINGMAN - As a few people in the gallery gasped, either in shock or with joy, Robert Felix Golden silently and repeatedly mouthed the words "thank you" to members of a jury who found him not guilty of murder on Friday.
The 46-year-old Meadview man faced second-degree murder charges in the March 12, 2011, death of Jerry Jennings, who was killed when the Harley-Davidson motorcycle he was driving ran off of Stockton Hill Road and into an embankment near Dolan Springs.
The jury also found Golden not guilty on a charge of aggravated assault related to injuries incurred by Joanna Jennings, Jerry Jennings wife, who was riding on the back of the motorcycle that day. A charge of leaving the scene of an accident also came back with an acquittal.
"A lot of weight has been on one shoulder," said Golden following the verdict, which came after about two hours of deliberations.
"I've learned to counterbalance that weight, but now that it's gone I have to learn how to walk again."
Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jeremy Huss said juror feedback indicated the verdict was the result of inconsistent testimony from Justin Matako, the prosecution's key eyewitness, who offered wholly contradictory comments before and during the trial.
"It came down to the credibility of our witness," said Huss. "There were a number of inconsistencies."
At trial it was stated Golden and Jennings were involved in a longstanding feud that played a key role in the accident, but Golden said it wasn't exactly the Hatfield and McCoys. The pair framed houses together for a couple of years.
"I think if Jerry were here he'd say that's not what it was," he said. "We actually got along really well. We worked as a team for two years and we were at the top of our game."
While Golden doesn't know if he will remain in the small community of Meadview, he did have kind words for Jerry Jennings' family.
"I hope they are able to get on with their lives and put this behind them," he said. "I feel sorry for Jerry's mom, Joan, and some day I hope to see Jerry again."
His attorney, Billy Sipe, said jurors made the correct decision.
"Based on the testimony and evidence that was presented to the jury, they absolutely made the right decision that Robert Gordon was not guilty of these charges," said Sipe. "We are very pleased with the jury verdict and we're not surprised by the verdict."
Like his client, Sipe had words of compassion for the Jennings family.
"I hope they can move on with their lives," he said. "I mean that sincerely."