Shortly before the jury re-entered Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller’s courtroom with a verdict, Matthew Motes gave one last hug and kiss to his family members gathered in the rows behind him.
Ten minutes later, he rejoined them acquitted of all charges.
Motes was found not guilty on charges of aggravated animal cruelty, aggravated assault and other charges in a July 26, 2015, incident on Benson Drive in Gainesville. Motes was accused of shooting and killing another man’s dog, who had previously bitten his father.
During opening statements, Motes’ attorney Clinton Teston said his client did not deny shooting the animal, but the attorney said it was in response to the dog’s owner attempting to let it out of the car during a fight.
“We knew that he wasn’t guilty of these,” Motes’ father, Dewayne Motes, said following the reading of the verdict.
The Motes family praised Teston for his work, but Teston said Motes’ testimony was potentially the most influential piece of evidence.
“I think the fact that he took the stand really made a difference,” Teston said.
The jury deliberated for four hours before returning not guilty verdicts on possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, second-degree criminal damage to property, battery and criminal trespass.
Matthew Motes was charged in a February 2016 indictment along with Dewayne Motes and brother Nicholas Dewayne Motes. Dewayne Motes’ trial is expected to begin Thursday morning, but a jury has not been selected for Nicholas Motes.