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Jury: Men Not Guilty of Shooting Local Police Officer

The men accused of shooting former Peters Township police Officer James Kuzak during a home invasion last year have been found not guilty Thursday.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 5:17 p.m. to include a statement from Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

A jury found two men accused of shooting Clairton police Officer James Kuzak during a home invasion not guilty on Thursday.

“The jury said it found Marcus Andrejco, 19, of Rankin not guilty of all counts. The jury said it found Emilio Rivera, 27, of McKees Rocks guilty of burglary, robbery, unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment. But jurors found him not guilty of all other counts, including the shooting of the officer,” the Post-Gazette reported on its website.

Allegheny District Attorney Stephen Zappala issued the following statement following the verdict announcement:

“District Attorney Zappala respects the verdict of this jury and would like to thank these men and women for their hard work and attentiveness during this long trial," the statement read. "The district attorney also commends officer Kuzak for the performance of his duties and for the courage and dignity that he has shown since sustaining his injuries. With the return of the verdict, Emilio Rivera faces a maximum sentence of 69 to 138 years in prison and it is the intention of the office to request maximum time during his upcoming sentencing hearing.”    

What are your thoughts on the verdict? Tell us in the comments section below.

The trial in the shooting of , who spent 13 years with , began late last month.

Kuzak, who also was previously employed with the , was left paralyzed after he was shot in the line of duty responding to the home invasion in Clairton on April 4, 2011.

The homeowner said the two men broke into her home, gathered her, her two daughters and her fiance, and then held a gun to her 4-year-old girl, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported during the trial. 

Later, they put the gun in the woman's mouth and started to sexually assault her, she said. 

Kuzak was shot three times—once in the chest through his bulletproof vest and once in each arm, according to Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons.

He became paralyzed from the middle of his abdomen down—the bullet entering through his chest hit his vertebrae. 

The defendants were charged with more than two dozen counts.

For full coverage of the verdict from the Post-Gazette click here.

For full coverage of the verdict from the Tribute-Review, click here.

For coverage from WPXI-TV, click here.

For coverage from KDKA-TV, click here.

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MMark August 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Time for zapalla to go!

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