CHARLOTTE -- A jury found Michael Mead not guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder and arson. He was accused of killing his pregnant fiancee, Lucy Johnson, and setting her home on fire in 2008.
"Two years of my life being turned upside down without my son, without Lucy, and like [defense attorney] Lisa [Dubs] said, justice in this case has not been done until somebody's arrested for killing her,” Mead said.
Johnson was fatally shot in Gaston County but the trial was moved to Mecklenburg to due to the publicity the case received. Mead could have faced the death penalty if convicted.
Mead cried and embraced his defense team as the jury delivered its unanimous verdict after eight and a half hours of deliberations.
"Family members that were close to Lucy at the time of her death knew how much I loved her and how much she loved me,” said Mead.
Lucy Johnson's mother, Michele, left the courtroom in tears after the verdict was read -- on what would have been her daughter's 34th birthday. She blames the verdict on health issues surrounding the lead prosecutor -- assistant district attorney Robert Forbes.
Earlier in the proceedings, the state asked for a continuance because of Forbes' illness but it was denied.
“It's not what I hoped but I'm not surprised. I do believe it's because Forbes is so heavily medicated,” Michele Johnson said.
When Forbes left the courtroom, he said he respected the decision but apologized to the Johnson family.
Johnson remains convinced of Mead's guilt and said the jury only heard half the story.
“The only thing they have is the testimony of the criminals and that Mike Mead had a gun. That's all they had to go on,” she said.
Mead was arrested on Jan. 9, 2009 and was released Feb. 26, 2009 on $650,000 bond. He originally faced five charges but three of those were dropped during the trial.
There is no indication on where the murder investigation will go from here.