JONESBORO, Ga. -- The jury in the Victor Hill corruption trial has found the Clayton County Sheriff NOT GUILTY on all counts.
LIVE NOW | Press Conference on Victor Hill verdict
Thursday afternoon, just after 5p.m., the jury reached a decision on 25 of the 27 counts. The jury found him not guilty of racketeering, theft by taking and making false statements. The jury was hung on one count each of theft by taking and making false statements.
There were hugs and cheers from the defense as the verdict was read.
The two counts the jury could not come to a decision on were dismissed.
Shortly after 3 p.m., Wednesday, the jury in the racketeering trial of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill began to deliberate his fate.
After about two hours, they went home for the night.
Hill was portrayed as either a thief or a political victim in his racketeering trial closing arguments Wednesday.
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"This is a not guilty verdict in 32 seconds," defense attorney Drew Findling tried to convince the jury.
Findling claimed Hill had the right to use county vehicles, credit cards and take pleasure trips with former female employees, including to gambling casinos, because he was sheriff 24/7, 365 days a year and was always on call.
COMPLETE COVERAGE | The Victor Hill trial
TIMELINE | The Victor Hill corruption case
He accused former Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, who defeated Hill in 2008, of using "Gestapo" tactics to make sure Hill couldn't beat him again last year, which he ended up doing.
Findling claimed Kimbrough used 11 investigators and spent $400,000 to go after Hill over a matter of only $1,000 in questionable expenses.
He said Kimbrough should have called in an unbiased, outside police agency, like the GBI, to investigate instead.
"Did they do that? Oh, no, baby, 'cause they were using the criminal justice system to work Sheriff Hill," Findling told the jury.
"Here's what they found using $400,000 of your money," Findling said, "You ready? Get set. Goose egg, nothing."
Even though Sheriff Kimbrough is also African-American, Findling tried to convince the jury that Hill is being persecuted, in part, because of his race.
"There's been a sea of whiteness casting allegations against him," he added.
In her closing argument, special prosecutor Layla Zon compared the political persecution allegation to a wife checking her husband's phone text messages to see if he's cheating.
"You may not like it," she said, "but the fact is he was cheating."
"What's done, is done," Zon added, pointing out that the defense didn't dispute Hill's use of company resources for personal pleasure trips.
"He gets to do this because he's sheriff, while you're back here working to pay taxes?" she asked jurors.
"That's offensive to take your tax money and spend it on himself," she added.
She urged the jury to base their verdict on facts and not on emotions appealing to sympathy, race or creed.
"Would any of you use your business car and take off on a trip to Miami?" she asked.