SANTA MARIA, Calif. - LATEST UPDATE
Orcutt rapper Anthony Ray Murillo was found not guilty of threatening a sexual assault victim.
The jury's verdict was read in court Thursday morning, a decision Anthony Murillo's family was hoping to hear.
"We've had to keep quiet for the last three and a half years and we knew if the truth was told that there would be no other verdict than not guilty," says Murillo's mom Alicia.
"We don't think what Mr. Murillo did to be any more serious than pointing a toy gun at a famous clown. He did not mean what he said," Murillo's Defense Attorney William Mackler tells us.
The prosecution was disappointed at the jury's decision. Jennifer Karapetian who represented the assault victim said via text message: "We knew this was a difficult case from the beginning, but we felt that it was an important one. We appreciate the jurors for their time and attention, and thank them for working together to arrive at a verdict."
Murillo's attorney says that he hopes this result does not make any victims of sexual assault scared to report their crimes to the police. "This shouldn't put fear into anybody. It shouldn't cause [district attorney's] offices and police officers to think that they can't gain the cooperation of their victims in criminal matters," Mackler explains.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley says via text message: "When a sexual assault victim is attacked their world is forever altered. We believe it is unconscionable for a victim to be revictimized, by any means, and we will continue to advocate for their safety and justice."
Now that the trial is over, Murillo's family says he's going to go back to making music. "He continues to write music, [and he] definitely learned a lesson. We never morally thought the song was good but he does have a freedom of speech as well to say what he wants," says Alicia Murillo.
The Murllios hope the victim in this case will move on as well. Alicia Murillo telling us: "Just hopefully she can move on with her life. She went on every tv show she could possibly find to talk about this when you know, we could've all let it go three and half years ago - he would've taken the song down and we would've all moved on."
The prosecution and the defense stated their sides of the case one last time to the jury in their closing arguments.
The case centers around rapper Anthony Ray Murillo from Orcutt, he's charged with threatening a sexual assault victim in a song that he recorded and posted online in 2013. The song has lyrics that say things like: "Go and get the feds cause you're gonna end up dead" and "We all know Jane Doe ain't nuthin but a hoe."
Throughout the trial, the prosecution has presented the case as one for victims' rights. Prosecutor Jennifer Karapetian asked the jury to find Murillo guilty of threatening one of the girls because she provided information to law enforcement as a crime victim and that the defendant willfully put those lyrics in his song.
The defense says however, this case is about lyrics being protected speech under the first amendment.
Jurors must decide in their verdict whether a reasonable listener in a similar situation would interpret the lyrics as threatening.
The prosecution believes a similar reasonable listener who has been a victim of a similar violent crime and bullied by the defendant would draw the same conclusion.
The defense believes a similar reasonable listener such as a fellow teenager would understand this as just rap music and not real threats.
Defense Attorney William Makler made multiple references to other rappers and how they write their lyrics arguing that a lot of threats in rap songs are not carried out - even saying at one point this is a suburban rapper, not Tupac.
The decision now lies in the hands of the jury. After deliberating for about two hours of Tuesday, they jurors are now expected back for more discussions on Thursday.