Defendant in 1999 murder found not guilty

By Sara Gouedy - bio | email
and Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The defendant in a 1999 murder case that was featured on America's Most Wanted is a free man.

The trial of 35-year old Cyril Byrd wrapped up Tuesday in Hamilton County court. Byrd was acquitted in the shooting death of security guard Jerry Gilbert on New Year's Eve 1999.

Hugs and tears greeted Cyril Byrd as he took the walk of a free man.

For nine years, Cincinnati Police believed Byrd shot Gilbert at Roselawn's Club Oasis.

Investigators said the shooting happened after someone took Byrd's mink coat.

Police said Byrd fired the shots and fled, but judge Melba Marsh wasn't convinced, and she set Byrd free.

"I just can't even explain how I feel right now, and this has been a long, long time in my life," said Byrd. "I'm just happy with the results, I'm happy with the way things turned out."

The search for Byrd grabbed national attention. America's Most Wanted featured the case and police found Byrd last year and arrested him in Phoenix. He was extradited back to Cincinnati and his trial began last week.

"He feels that he's vindicated," said Cyril Hall, Byrd's attorney. "He had just graduated from college immediately before this incident occurred, so his life has been on hold for approximately nine years. Now he can make a decision to go to graduate school, or do whatever else he wants to do."

Meanwhile, the case remains open for Jerry Gilbert's family. They still don't have justice in his death and said they are shocked and saddened by the verdict, but will rally around each other and try to get through this trying time.

Judge Marsh thanked the police for all of their hard work in not letting this case go cold, but in the end, handed down the verdict of not guilty.