UPDATE: G.I. Man Found Not Guilty in Murder Trial

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

After more than seven hours of deliberation, a jury finds Arkanjelo Kot not guilty of murder. The verdict comes after Kot admitted to pulling the trigger.

Kot says he shot at Walid Omar Aden following an argument on July 14, 2010 because he thought Aden was reaching for a gun.

But Hall County Attorney Mark Young says the shooting was premeditated as Kot retrieved his gun and loaded it before walking back to the van Aden was in.

Young says it's a disappointing verdict.

"The victim is essentially a blank slate that the defense lawyer can draw anything they want on and my ability to rebut that is really pretty limited under the law," says Young.

Kot only said "thanks everybody" as he left the courtroom, but his attorney says it was his own testimony that likely made jurors understand his self defense claim.

"He was able to tell the jury in his own words what happened that night, and of course he was the only one who could tell the story," says Denise Frost, who along with Clarence Mock of Johnson and Mock defended Kot. "The truth is what set him free."

The 2010 shooting followed a period of tension and violence between Grand Island's Sudanese and Somali communities and another shooting in August 2009 that injured Kot and killed a family member. Kot is an immigrant from the area that is now South Sudan.

Leaders hope the trial's end will close that chapter and open more dialogue.

"We have to know the law," says Peter Lokodo, a Sudanese community leader who has known Kot since 2007. "I know we come from another country and we don't understand the law. I give [the community] advice that if you see something go to the law, ask people around you how to interpret the law here in the United States so that you can understand the law."

"We've made an effort in our office to prosecute vigorously cases that are coming out of some of the apartments that were mentioned [during this trial] and things seemed to have calmed down and I hope that remains the case," says Young.

Young says he knows the jury in this case took their oath seriously and worked hard, deliberating over two days.

"It's going to be a tough phone call to call back to Ohio and tell Mr. Aden's family what happened," says Young. "I feel like I let them down and the community down and I'm sorry."

Frost says it's a weight off her client's shoulders, saying Kot has been in jail since the day after the shooting.

"I think it was the right verdict based on the facts of the case and the evidence," says Frost. "It was what we prayed for, it was what we hoped for."

Kot is not yet a free man. He remains in jail on other charges.


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