A Jefferson County jury Friday acquitted a teenager in the murder of an Iraq War veteran outside his Hoover home last year. The jury, consisting of eight blacks and four whites, reached the verdict on the fourth day of deliberations in the trial of 17-year old Charleston Wells. Wells was charged with gunning down Mike Gilotti in Lake Cyrus, where he and three other members of a Bessemer street gang had gone to break into cars. After the verdict was announced, members of Wells's family embraced, but did not speak with reporters. Gilotti's family, including his widow Heather, also left without commenting. Wells's attorney, Charles Salvagio said, "There's no winners here." But prosecutor Lane Tolbert said there was a winner: Charleston Wells. Tolbert said he was disappointed by the verdict. "Justice was not done," Tolbert said. The jury convicted Wells only of breaking into vehicles. He faces sentencing on those convictions in July, but under recently changed sentencing guidelines, Wells will not do any prison time, Tolbert said. In 2015, the Legislature revised sentencing guidelines for property crimes, such as breaking and entering a vehicle. Under the new guidelines, offenders such as Wells are not sent to prison, but instead receive probation. Supporters of the change, led by state Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), sold it as a way to reduce prison overcrowding.
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