A jury found the former owner of Universal Fitness Center in Stanton, KY, not guilty of murder and first-degree robbery at the conclusion of a recent trial.
The jury returned the verdict on Feb. 16 in a Powell County (KY) courtroom, according to multiple local media reports. Woodie Sons Jr. had been accused in the beating and stabbing death of Charles Maggard on Dec. 14, 2010.
The jury needed about an hour of deliberation after two-and-a-half days of testimony to reach its verdict, The Clay City Times of Stanton reported. While Sons breathed a sigh of relief after the verdict was read, Charles Maggard’s mother, who found her dead son in his home after he had not reported for work, cried for several minutes as her prosecution team and family tried to console her, the newspaper reported.
“We don’t want to diminish what the other family is going through, but we believed in our client,” Lisa Whisman, the director of the local public defenders’ office, told the newspaper. “With a jury trial, you never know how it will come out. We felt there was doubt in this case.”
Sons was arrested two weeks after Maggard was beaten and stabbed with an Ale-8-One soft drink bottle. Police had said that Sons murdered Maggard for not giving him drugs, the newspaper reported.
Sons was held in Powell County Jail on $1 million bail. After an apparent suicide attempt, Sons was transferred to the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center. He pleaded not guilty on Feb. 9, 2011.
The 50,000-square-foot Universal Fitness Center that Sons owned and operated was destroyed in a fire on Oct. 24, 2010. The building was described as a total loss, the result of an electrical fire, according to investigators. Sons told officials that he had no insurance on the fitness equipment inside the club, the newspaper reported.