Jury acquits Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill

Jury acquits Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill

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CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -

A jury found Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill not guilty Thursday on 25 counts in his felony corruption trial.

The jury could not agree on two charges, theft by taking and making a false statement, and they were dropped.

After the verdict was read, Hill turned to his lawyers and appeared to say, "We did it." The team then hugged each other tightly in victory.

Prosecutors had claimed Hill misused taxpayer money during his first term as sheriff. The state accused Hill of using county cards, credit cards and employees for his own gain. In nearly 30 felony charges, he was accused of racketeering, theft, making false statements and violating his oath of office.

The jury foreman, Markeith Crabb, said that the district attorney's argument "had too many holes" in it and didn't make sense, FOX 5's Chris Shaw reports. He said the jury agreed early on that the charges didn't add up.

The jury seemed to agree with Hill's defense that the charges likely stemmed from political rivalry.

"I think that played a big part in it because everything didn't start coming back up until the sheriff wanted to run again. Lot of things just came into play once he started running for office," Crabb said.

Hill did not attend a post-trial press conference. His attorney, Drew Findling, said being there "would dignify this unjust investigation and unjust prosecution."

District attorney Tracy Graham Lawson thanked jurors after the trial, but did not comment on their decision.

Jessie Goree, a Clayton County school board member and Hill supporter, told FOX 5 that she's glad the county can now move on, with the man elected for the job.

"They want Sheriff Victor Hill as their sheriff and today I think he was vindicated," Goree said.

Hill was re-elected to the position in 2012 after losing in 2008 to Kem Kimbrough. Had Hill been convicted on any of the 27 counts, he would have been removed as sheriff. Now, he'll go back to work next door to the district attorney's office in Clayton County.

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