Family Speaks After Charleston Man Found Not Guilty Of First-Degree Murder

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CHARLESTON (KFSM) -- A man who had been charged of first-degree murder in the shooting of his nephew has been acquitted.

Thomas Roy Barnes had been accused of murder after a shooting incident in June 2015 that left Joey Strickland dead.

One family member said relatives were "heartbroken" with verdict.

Melton Carter is Strickland's brother-in-law. Carter said the family was hoping the trial would have a different outcome.

Carter said the jury asked the judge to lower the charge of first degree murder, but the judge said no. Carter said after their request, the jury went back to deliberate for 15 minutes before finding Barnes not guilty.

"I’d say the jury felt like he was guilty," Carter said. "They just didn’t want to give him, you know, first degree murder because he would probably spend the rest of his life in prison."

Carter said the situation has been hard on both families, but he said Strickland’s family is worried about seeing Barnes in the small town.

"If you look at the man who shot your son or your brother and stuff, you’d be reminded every day that you see him that that’s the man who killed him," Carter said.

According to witnesses, Barnes was at his house on June 9, 2015 and had multiple heated phone conversations with Strickland, and concluded with Barnes telling Strickland to come over.

Strickland had lived with Barnes and his wife Brenda for a short time.

After Strickland arrived at Barnes' home, Brenda heard "yelling." Strickland reportedly began to approach Barnes and the two shouted at each other. Strickland then clenched his fist and pulled it back as if to hit Barnes.

The suspect shot at Strickland once with a Smith and Wesson Highway Patrolman model .357.

Brenda Barnes immediately reported the incident, but when emergency personnel arrived, Strickland was pronounced dead at the scene.

His initial $500,000 cash bond had been reduced to $30,000 after a July arraignment hearing.

The trial ended one day early, and Barnes does not face any additional charges, according to court records.