DOVER, Delaware — A Kent County man was acquitted of first-degree murder Friday in the stabbing death of his girlfriend's father.
A Superior Court jury also refused to convict Gerard Schweiger, 25, on lesser charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide that prosecutors had asked they be allowed to consider. Schweiger was on trial in the killing of 45-year-old Tony Mozick in January 2013.
"We respect the jury's verdict," Joe Rogalsky, a spokesman for Attorney General Beau Biden, said in a statement.
Defense attorneys suggested that case against Schweiger was "a rush to judgment."
Schweiger shook with relief as the verdict was read and wept as he embraced his attorneys afterward. He would have faced life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
Mozick was stabbed to death in his Leipsic home, and his body later dumped from a bridge into the Leipsic River, according to prosecutors. Mozick was the father of Jennifer Barnes, 25, who was Schweiger's girlfriend at the time and the mother of his young child.
Schweiger's attorneys argued that Barnes, not Schweiger, killed her father.
Schweiger and Barnes both were accused of dumping the body into the river. Barnes was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and other charges.
The jury found Schweiger guilty on similar charges.
Defense attorney Andre Beauregard said that, in 30 years of practicing law, Schweiger's case was the first in which he felt emotionally involved with his client. He also said he was happy "to see the system finally work for somebody."
Eight months after Mozick's killing, his son, Tony Mozick Jr., was charged with killing his girlfriend, Taylor M. Owens, 19, during an argument at their Leipsic home and trying to burn her corpse.
Investigators later concluded that Owens died after falling and hitting her head. After initially being charged with first-degree murder, the younger Mozick, Barnes' brother, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and abuse of a corpse. He was sentenced in May to 15 years in prison.