KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knox County jury cleared a young Knoxville man Wednesday of all but one charge in an April 2018 homicide.
The panel, which began hearing Isaiah Styles' case on Monday, found him not guilty of first-degree murder and felony murder counts. In an eight-count indictment, it chose to convict him only of evading arrest, according to the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office.
Styles was allowed to go home to his family after being in custody. He was released on time served for the evading arrest count, according to court officials.
His defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs offered a brief statement after the verdict.
“Anytime there is a loss of life it is a tragedy. Mr. Styles is nonetheless very pleased with the jury verdict," Isaacs said.
Styles was charged with murder in the death of 18-year-old Mekhi Luster in the backyard of a West Knox County home. Styles was 18 at the time.
Authorities said the shooting stemmed from a busted marijuana deal. Styles and a friend were supposed to buy some from Luster, according to authorities.
A confrontation developed. Styles told investigators later he snatched a pistol from Luster and ended up shooting him.
Styles and a friend fled the scene, leaving Luster on the ground where he fell.
Styles went back to his family home that night. Knox County authorities confronted him the next day. Styles fled but was caught hiding under a garage, prompting the evading arrest count.
While speaking to investigators, Styles tearfully insisted he hadn't meant to kill Luster. He said he grabbed the gun because he thought Luster was going to harm him or his friend.
Jurors heard Styles' audio interview Tuesday at trial.