MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A jury has returned a not guilty verdict for Donna Long, who was on
. Marion County Sheriff's Investigators arrested Donna Faye Long, 50, on October 26, 2012 and charged her with the murder of Lacey Johnson Sr. of Mullins. Marion County Sheriff Mark Richardson said the stabbing happened in Long's home near Elizabeth Loop.
After a trial that began Monday and ended Wednesday afternoon, the jury deliberated for less than three hours Thursday morning before returning the not guilty verdict.
The first day of the trial was largely spent finding jurors for the case. By the afternoon, the defense tried to keep a 911 call between Donna Long and a dispatcher from being part of the trial.
Read a complete recap of Day 1 here: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/27410294/murder-trial-begins-for-marion-woman-accused-of-fatal-stabbing
On day two, the judge decided to allow the 911 call into evidence and jurors heard it for the first time. The defense, led by criminal defense attorney Morgan Martin, grilled witnesses made up mostly of emergency responders. Martin continued to point to the fact that those law enforcement officers never recorded audio or video of his client, Ms. Long.
Read a complete recap of Day 2 here: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/27433067/marion-county-murder-trial-in-its-second-day
When the murder trial continued on day three, the conversation continued to come back to two topics: sex and alcohol. Criminal defense attorney Morgan Martin has built his case up around Donna Long being too intoxicated on the night Lacey Johnson was murdered. Too drunk, too incoherent, to know what she was saying to emergency responders.
After closing arguments, the jury was sent to the chambers to deliberate. Because of the late hour, the judge excused the jury for the evening.
Read a full recap of day three here: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/27433055/marion-county-murder-trial-in-its-third-day
The jury returned Thursday morning, and after about two and half hours of deliberation, returned a not guilty verdict.
Before it was handed to the judge, he announced he had a note from the jury foreman. "This is the first time I've ever had this happen," remarked Judge King, "but I have a note from the jury addressed to me."
It read in part that the jury appreciated the court for allowing them to go home each evening and to have breaks throughout the process. It ended with saying they had reached a decision and thanked the court for trusting them to find a verdict.
The room was silent and the air was tense as that verdict was handed over to the judge. The Clerk of Court read the note aloud, stating Donna Faye Long was found not guilty.
Lacey Johnson's family was visibly upset, holding on to each other and sobbing. After leaving the courthouse a scuffle broke out among family members, screaming at the courthouse. They had to be police escorted off the property.
Before leaving, Donna Long let out a smile for the first time since entering into the trail.
"This has been hanging over her head for two years that she'd have to undergo a trial, I'm sure it is a great sense of relief for her," shared her criminal defense attorney Morgan Martin.
While many people in the courtroom were shocked to hear the verdict, Mr. Martin was not.
"There was a lack of evidence to convince the jury that she did it. Most of all where was the murder weapon?" expressed Martin.