The man accused of fatally shooting a Fort Bragg soldier at a nightclub in 2011 was found not guilty Friday afternoon, court officials said.
Kenneth Ronald Clark, 36, was accused of shooting Army Spc. Breon Joseph Smith as he worked security at Congo's Latin Club on Cumberland Road in Fayetteville.
Smith was a vehicle mechanic in the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. He joined the Army in 2001 and was assigned to Fort Bragg in 2006.
A jury found Clark not guilty Friday in Cumberland County Superior Court of first-degree and second-degree murder charges, Clark's lawyer Clifton Gray said Friday afternoon. The verdict came after a two-week trial.
Clark, 36, of the 800 block of Opal Court, was originally charged with first-degree murder, authorities said. However, Gray said prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks to have the jury deliberate on both charges, because the jury could have convicted him of the lesser charge.
Authorities said Smith had asked Clark and his friends to leave just before the club was set to close on the morning of March 24, 2011. They said the group left long enough for Clark to retrieve a gun from his car, return to the club and shoot Smith.
Gray said he was happy the jury exonerated his client.
"I'm just happy that the jury made the right decision," he said. "They made the decision based on the evidence that was in front of them."
Gray said the prosecution's case heavily relied on the eyewitness testimony of a security guard who was working the night Smith was killed.
Scientific evidence showed Clark was too far away from Smith to have been the shooter, Gray said.
Gray also criticized the testimony prosecutors chose to present.
"I've just never seen a murder case done where the lead investigator didn't take the stand," he said.
Officials with the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office could not be reached for comment Friday.