SANTA MARIA, Calif. - An aspiring Santa Maria Hip Hop artist is breaking his silence on a jury verdict in his criminal court case involving a controversial song he recorded.
Earlier this month a Santa Maria jury found Anthony Murillo not guilty of threatening a sexual assault victim in his 2013 rap song entitled "Moment For Life Remix".
The case attracted national attention because it focused on the lyrics in the song which was about a previous high profile sexual assault court case involving former students at St. Joseph High School.
The defense maintained the song and the lyrics are protected free speech under the First Amendment.
"A lot of weight off my shoulders for sure", says 23 year old Anthony Murillo as he reflects on a three and half year legal odyssey that ended with a not guilty jury verdict on a criminal charge of threatening a sexual assault victim in a rap song he recorded back in 2013.
Murillo's successful defense, the song and its lyrics are protected free speech under the First Amendment.
"I knew since day one a crime was never committed", Murillo says, "you know it was stressful of course but I'm just happy its all over."
Murillo says his controversial song, "Moment For Life Remix", was inspired by other hip hop and rap artists he listens to and not by the teenage victims and the young man who was convicted in the local sexual assault case.
"I'd seen the bigger people do it, and I thought I could really tie into it", Murillo says, "I never really thought what happened could happen."
The Murillo family says they've received widespread public support since their long legal ordeal began.
"He didn't do anything wrong, we knew he was innocent from the beginning", says Anthony's mother Alicia Murillo, "its what he does, he writes music, he sings music, we knew he didn't commit a crime, maybe it was morally wrong, but we knew he didn't commit a crime."
Anthony Murillo continues to perform and tour as Hip Hop artist "Anthony Ray" including a live concert in Santa Maria Friday night.
Murillo says he's learned a valuable but costly lesson about a business he hopes will become a lucrative career.
"I definitely won't do it again, I won't do it in the future", Murillo says, "I plan to move on from this, I've already moved on from this, I got a lot of things planned for this year so hopefully I'll take it and learn from it."
Murillo says he will never again perform the song that got him into so much legal trouble.