Breaking News
More (0) »

Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

Two former UT football players found not guilty on all counts in rape trial

In the rape trial for two UT football players, A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams have been found not guilty on all counts.

At around 5:30 p.m. Friday -- the jury said it had reached a verdict in the rape trial for two former University of Tennessee football players.

Both A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams were found not guilty on all charges.

The jury began deliberating at 4:10 p.m. on Friday and announced their decision at 6:00 p.m.

The defense did not call any witnesses to the stand before resting their cases minutes after the jury entered the courtroom as day five of the trial got underway.

A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams were charged with raping another student in November 2014. Both claimed they are innocent and claim the woman who accused them is lying.

The jury left the room and the judge took a recess as both sides prepared their jury instructions.

DAY 1: Testimony begins in rape trial for former UT football players

DAY 2: 911 call played in courtroom on day 2 of rape trial for former UT football players

DAY 3: Woman accusing two former UT football players of rape testifies on day 3 of trial

DAY 4: State rests its case in rape trial for two former UT football players

Closing arguments began around 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

The judge said he would put time limits on the closing arguments, limiting the state to 90 minutes to give their closing arguments and each of the defendants to an hour.

Prosecutor Leslie Nassios described the alleged victim's experience and the alleged rape during the state's closing arguments.

Nassios told the jury that they weren't being asked to blame any institutions, but rather focus on the players themselves and their actions.

She argued that their actions were about selfishness, that they didn't take into account what the alleged victim wanted or her feelings.

The prosecution finished their closing arguments around 1:15 p.m.

The defense attorney for A.J. Johnson, Stephen Johnson, [there is no relation between the two] began to make his closing arguments around 1:20 p.m. Friday.

He argued A.J. Johnson is not guilty, that the prosecution made a very emotional plea and that he would walk through the evidence. He said the alleged victim got locked in a lie that got out of control.

He had a Powerpoint slide for each witness and began to go through their testimony.

The attorney showed a photo of Johnson's apartment and bedroom on the screen and said: "See how close this doorway is to this stairwell? [...] Does it make sense that they leave her alone with the door open for all these other people to see? Where are all these other people who saw her?"

He pointed out the trash in Johnson's apartment from the party the night before.

Michael Williams' attorney began his closing argument around 2:15 p.m.

"We know that [the alleged victim] was a girl at this party. That she had been drinking. That she went upstairs understanding what was going to happen," he said.

"Once that allegation of rape is made, it gets attention and other people take over."

The attorney compared what he said was her lie to a snowball in that it keeps going and getting bigger.

"We know from the testimony that Michael Williams was not interviewed at the UT athletic department. He was not interviewed in the presence of some UT athletic director or assistant director. He was interviewed in an interrogation room at the Knoxville Police Department."

Williams' attorney finished his closing argument around 3 p.m. The prosecution now had one more chance to convince the jury that the two men raped the woman.

The prosecution finished their argument, and the jury then read instructions from the judge before beginning deliberations.

At 6:00 p.m., the jury returned a not guilty verdict for both Johnson and Williams on all counts in less than two hours after entering deliberations.

WBIR Reporter Cole Sullivan is in the court room providing live updates: