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Man acquitted in 1999 slaying in Homewood |

Man acquitted in 1999 slaying in Homewood

Bobby Kerlik
| Tuesday, July 29, 2008 12:00 a.m

Moments after her son was acquitted Monday of strangling a Homewood man nine years ago, Kay Jones wept uncontrollably in the back of the courtroom.

“I’m just thankful for the verdict that came back,” Jones, 58, of Wilkinsburg said after Sean Carter was acquitted of murder charges. “It was very difficult after all these years to have to face this, but God is good.”

Carter, 38, was found not guilty of first- and third-degree murder and conspiracy in the Sept. 12, 1999, death of Curtis Tolliver, 41.

Police charged Carter in June 2007 after the Tribune-Review featured Tolliver’s case in the Cold Case Files series, which highlights unsolved cases.

An Allegheny County jury deliberated about three hours before returning the verdict in the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Durkin.

“There wasn’t enough evidence to corroborate the witness testimony,” said juror Cara Williams, 35, of Mt. Lebanon. “The fact that it was an old case didn’t help, but that didn’t make the difference.”

“It was the lack of physical evidence and the different witness testimony,” said juror Teisha Smith-Harrison, 28, of Shadyside.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., declined to comment on the case.

“I thought it was a weak case,” said Carter’s attorney, James DePasquale. “It’s tough to put on a case after nine years. There just wasn’t a lot of evidence.”

Tolliver’s girlfriend found him dead in his first-floor apartment on the living room floor. Blood surrounded him and spattered the walls and furniture.

Witnesses in the case testified that Carter and Tolliver argued earlier that day and that Carter and another man returned later and entered Tolliver’s apartment.

Carter is serving five to 10 years in prison for drug offenses.

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