- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

BENTON, La. (AP) - Louisiana jurors have acquitted a man of murder charges in the 2016 stabbing death of an Air Force sergeant.

Bossier (BOH’-zher) Parish jurors on Friday said Benjamin Shaw wasn’t guilty of second degree murder, although there’s little factual dispute that he stabbed Tech. Sgt. Zechariah Casagranda in a fight that began with an elbow thrown on the dance floor, escalating into a deadly stabbing in the parking lot.

Jurors deliberated more than five hours before they voted 10-2 for acquittal, local media report. Under Louisiana law, only 10 jurors are required to agree to a verdict, not all of them.

Defense attorney Jose Baez told local media that jurors were correct to conclude Shaw was protecting himself.

Mr. Shaw acted in pure self-defense,” he said. “I think if there’s ever a fight, both sides should be investigated equally and there shouldn’t be a rush to judgment and just because one group has more people on their side.”

Baez earlier defended former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, who was acquitted earlier this year of killing two men in a 2012 drive-by shooting, as well as Casey Anthony, the Florida woman acquitted in 2011 of killing her two-year-old daughter

Danny Harris, who worked at the club at the time, said there were multiple fights between Shaw and his friends and Casagranda and his friends leading up to the stabbing.

Harris testified that Casagranda and his friends started the fight, saying “they were 1000 percent the aggressors.”

Prosecutors said Shaw stabbed the Barksdale Air Force Base airman nine or 10 times, and was at fault for his actions.

“The truth in this case is that Benjamin Shaw stabbed an unarmed Zechariah Casagranda 10 times in a matter of seconds,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jacobs told jurors. “Ben Shaw wasn’t scared of anything that night except getting caught.”

Shaw, 23, has lived in Texas and Maine. He faced a mandatory life prison sentence had he been convicted, but did not testify.

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