Billy Nutt was found not guilty of all charges in the 2013 shooting death of Tabius Love by a Jefferson County Circuit Court jury that deliberated about two hours Tuesday.
Nutt, 76, was accused of shooting Love, 23, who was the boyfriend of Nutt’s granddaughter Misty on Oct. 10, 2013, inside a camper-trailer at Altheimer. He had pleaded not guilty.
The jury of seven men and five women found Nutt not guilty of first-degree murder, which was what prosecutors had originally charged him with, as well as lesser offenses of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
“Mr. Nutt, you have been found not guilty of all charges and are now free to go about your business,” Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones, who presided over the trial, said after the jury returned its verdict.
Testifying in his own defense Tuesday morning, Nutt he was afraid Love “was going to hurt my wife or Misty.”
Nutt’s wife, Anna, lived in the camper-trailer where Love was shot.
The defense also played a tape of a 9-1-1 call Nutt placed after the shooting and on that tape, he could be heard to say, “I just shot a man. I think he’s dead.”
Questioned by defense attorney Clint Todd, Nutt said he told Love not to go to the camper-trailer where Anna Nutt was and where Misty Nutt had run to, but Love went anyway, with Nutt following him after hearing Misty Nutt scream.
“I seen my wife with a gun pointed at Tabius,” Nutt said. “I took the gun from her and I told Tabius to get out of the house twice. He said, ‘shoot me’ and I did.”
In his closing argument, defense attorney Greg Robinson said Misty Nutt and Love had been involved in a relationship for about three years and “all kinds of things, all kinds of problems happened. What was different at this time?”
Robinson said those differences included Love going to the camper-trailer where Anna Nutt was and Nutt hearing a scream from Misty Nutt, whose hand was injured when Love pulled on a door that Misty Nutt was trying to hold closed.
“And seeing his wife holding on gun on Tabius — that was different,” Robinson said, going on to say that while Nutt was 75 at the time, Love was 23 and muscular.
“This man can’t tell you he was scared but the state proved it with their evidence,” Robinson said, mentioning the fact that Love fell immediately when he was shot and Associate State Medical Examiner Dr. Frank Peretti testified Monday that Love was shot from more than two feet away.
Robinson and Nutt’s other attorney Clint Todd declined comment on the verdict Tuesday afternoon.
When she testified Monday, Anna Nutt said Love was walking toward Billy Nutt with his fists balled up, but Billy Nutt did not mention that in his testimony.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Robinson said. “That man was scared.”
Before the state rested Tuesday morning, two sheriff’s investigators who interviewed Billy Nutt on the day of the shooting testified about what he told them.
Asked by Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer about Nutt’s demeanor at the scene, Investigator Rick Conyers said “he was relatively calm and seemed like he was anxious to tell his story.”
Conyers also testified that while working in patrol before being assigned to criminal investigation, he had been to the Nutt residence on a domestic dispute between Love and Misty Nutt.
Investigator John Bean, who was the lead investigator on the case and who testified Monday, was recalled to the stand to talk about an interview he and Sheriff’s Capt. John McNeil conducted with Billy Nutt the day of the shooting.
“He was very calm, not nervous,” Bean said.
Nutt, who had been held at the detention center since his arrest last year, was to be released late Tuesday afternoon after being processed out.