Berrien Co., Mich. A Watervliet man charged with murdering a baby last year has been found not guilty.
The jury spent less than 3 hours deliberating over the verdict of Casey Ladd, 25, accused of killing Aiden Ladd in August 2012.
He has been found not guilty of first degree murder and first degree child abuse.
Newscenter 16 spoke to Aiden's mother the day after his death. She said she left the apartment she shared with Casey Ladd and their children at around 10 a.m. Ladd called her about 30 minutes later to say that the baby was in the hospital. He passed away that afternoon.
In closing arguments Friday, the defense attorney told the jury that there was not enough evidence to show Casey Ladd caused Aiden Ladd's death. He emphasized that if they jurors had reasonable doubt, they had to find Ladd not guilt.
The defense described Ladd as a loving father and even showed photos of him with his children. He also said the mother's involvement needed to be considered because she interacted with Aiden that same morning before leaving the apartment.
The assistant prosecuting attorney Gerald Vigansky later reminded the jury of the severe injuries Aiden Ladd suffered before his death. Vigansky said that Ladd hit Aiden Ladd the morning of August 13, 2012 and that those injuries left the infant near-death.
"Aiden couldn't defend himself," Vigansky said in court. "Aiden did not deserve that death. Now, it is your turn to find [Casey] guilty of murdering little Aiden."
But, the jury sided with the defense and found Ladd not guilty on all counts.
Ladd's sister was overcome with emotion after the not guilty verdict was read in the court room.
" I'm so happy for my brother," she said. "I knew he did not deserve to be in here. It has been especially hard knowing that there was no way my brother could have done it. I've seen him with the kids. I know he loved his kids. There is no way my brother fit the description they were giving of him."
Casey Ladd spoke to Newscenter 16 off camera and said his top priorities are seeing his children and getting his life straightened out.