McNair found not guilty

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Alavi, Bird, Pozzuto | McNair found not guilty

OCALA – Derrick McNair laid his head down on the table in front of him Friday after jurors declared him not guilty of murder.
Both McNair and court spectators appeared stunned when Circuit Judge William T. Swigert read the verdict. Members of McNair’s family gasped and cried quietly, while friends and family of Carlos Reynolds remained silent on the opposite side of the room.
Reynolds was shot with a .25-caliber handgun outside the Circle K store at 917 N. Pine Ave. in the early morning hours of last Aug. 30, in the midst of a crowd police have estimated at between 150 and 200 people.
McNair, 19, was charged with second-degree murder, and faced life in prison had he been convicted.
With five bailiffs in the courtroom, Ocala Police officers and extra bailiffs in the hallway outside, and mounted, motorcycle, and regular patrol police outside, Reynolds’ family quietly left the courthouse. McNair’s family followed about 15 minutes later.
“I knew all the time he hadn’t committed that crime,” said McNair’s uncle, Johnny Johnson. “He’s not that type of person.”
The extra police presence was in response to the high emotions the case has generated, said Ocala Police Lt. Mike Scroble.
Reynolds’ mother, Charlotte Reynolds, said Friday that members of her family had been threatened as they left the courthouse Thursday.
“As we reached the outside, a little burgundy Honda rode by,” she said, “and somebody said ‘The killing’s not over.’ ”
Police are investigating. McNair remained in custody on unrelated robbery, drug and weapons charges.
Phillips said he still is convinced McNair was the person who shot 18-year-old Carlos Reynolds.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s responsible, but that’s not what the jury decided,” Phillips said. “He just dodged a bullet this week because of the circumstances.”
The state didn’t have enough to go to trial, insisted McNair’s defense lawyer, Andy Pozzuto and co-counsel Tania Alavi.
“They didn’t have the gun that caused the murder, and they didn’t have him with the gun,” Pozzuto said. “We really believed that Derrick was not guilty. We believe it never should have gotten as far as a jury verdict,” he said.
“It wasn’t going to get any better,” Phillips said. “We felt that we had a viable theory, and that we had sufficient evidence.”
With more than 150 people at the scene when Reynolds was shot, only one testified she saw McNair standing over Reynolds with what could have been a gun.
Intimidation could have prevented other witnesses from coming forward, Phillips said.
Both sides were concerned about more violence.
“People are going to be emotional and upset. It’s only natural,” Pozzuto said. “People have got to stop killing people over the past and start looking forward.”
Johnson expressed sympathy to Reynolds’ family.
“All my sympathy and regard to them,” he said. “I’m sorry they lost a loved one … We still love them as they should still love us.”
Both Phillips and Pozzuto said they had heard reports McNair would leave the state temporarily once he is released on bond on the remaining unrelated charges.
As she awaited the jury’s decision Friday, Charlotte Reynolds recalled her only son as an easygoing, fun-loving young man.
“He wasn’t a violent person,” she said. “He liked poetry. He wrote poetry.”
She did turn in a .38-caliber handgun to the Rev. James Sykes after her son was shot, but said it wasn’t his.
“We’re not into that,” she said. “I raised my kids as best as I knew how. No weapons in my home.”
Someone else found the gun and turned it over to her, she said.
Reynolds said she was coping with the loss of her son.
“I had to learn to not be angry. I still don’t understand it, and I may never understand it, but I know he’s gone and he’s not coming back.”
A rose bush Carlos bought her reminds her of him, she said.
“I said ‘When it does bad, you’re going to do bad. When it does good, you’re going to do good,’ ” she said. “It’s always blooming. I know that’s his way of communicating with me.”
Rick Cundiff covers the courts. He can be reached at [email protected], or at 867-4130.

3 Comments on “McNair found not guilty”

  1. Your article gave me a lot of inspiration, I hope you can explain your point of view in more detail, because I have some doubts, thank you.

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