A Massachusetts man who faced life prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of his estranged wife's lover has walked out of court a free man after a judge declared him not guilty.
Salem Superior Court Judge Thomas Dreschler's directed verdict Tuesday came a week into the trial of Jose Urena, 51, and just before closing statements, The Salem News reported.
Drechsler said there was insufficient evidence presented at trial.
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Urena was charged with killing Jeffrie Santana-Peguero, 22, of Lawrence, on New Year's Eve in 2017. Urena's estranged wife was dating Santana-Peguero and was pregnant with his child, authorities said.
Urena's attorney, James Budreau, filed the motion for a directed verdict.
"While the victim may have been the cause of his marital problems, there is no evidence that Mr. Urena ever threatened Mr. Peguero or otherwise demonstrated a desire to injure him," Budreau said.
The Essex district attorney's office issued a single sentence on the verdict.
"Unfortunately, in these circumstances, the Commonwealth does not have any right of appeal," the prosecutor said.