SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - After hours of deliberation, a Minnehaha County jury acquitted Stacy Phelps of four counts after being accused of backdating contracts to try to avoid a potential audit.
Phelps was found not guilty on all four counts of falsifying evidence and conspiracy against him in the gear up case late Thursday night.
The jury deliberated for nearly nine hours and there was a loud audible gasp in the courtroom from friends and family of Phelps there to support him. Phelps was visibly emotional as he was leaving the courtroom.
Angela Kennecke: Can you tell us how you feel at this moment?
Defense Attorney Dana Hanna: Stacy would rather have me tell you.
Angela Kennecke: What do you think it was that swayed the jury?
Dana Hanna: The fact that he's innocent. The Indian people of this state have always know that he was innocent of these charges.
Angela Kennecke: The State lost millions of dollars in the GEAR UP grant fiasco; yet two people the state tried to hold accountable were acquitted and one person plead guilty to a lesser charge. Is this a problem that no one has truly been held accountable for what happened with GEAR UP?
Attorney General Marty Jackley: Some of this came in the trial that the state could show a misappropriation of about $1.3 million by Scott Westerhuis and obviously he's being judged in a different place right now. We couldn't put Scott on trial.
While Phelps wasn't saying anything, his sister told us this.
Angela Kennecke: Did you think this is how it would turn out?
Charlene Phelps: Yeah, I trusted him, he's an admirable man.
Angela Kennecke will have more on the acquittal of Stacy Phelps on KELOLAND News on Friday.