DODGEVILLE (WKOW) — An Iowa County man Friday was found not guilty of first degree intentional homicide in connection with the shooting death of his step father.
Austin Valdez, 21, quickly left a heavily guarded courtroom after the verdict.
Last year, Valdez's trial on the less serious charge of reckless homicide in the death of 46-year old Robin Reeson ended in a hung jury.
Valdez maintained he was protecting his mother, when he discovered her being choked by Reeson in the family's Ridgeway home in March 2018.
Valdez testified at trial, and jurors also watched video of both Valdez and his mother, Melanie Reeson, being interviewed separately by investigators shortly after the incident.
"Melanie and Austin were consistent from forty minutes after this happened," Valdez's attorney, Taylor Hart says. " 'He was choking me, he ran at Austin, Austin shot him once to stop him.' That never changed," Hart says.
Valdez's attorney, Jeremiah Meyer-O'Day says during Valdez's trial testimony, Valdez let his grief escape over having to kill his stepfather.
"He has been putting up a wall between himself and his emotions for the whole time since this has happened," Meyer O'Day says. "It's understandable. This was a terrible tragedy."
Prosecutors maintained Valdez had built-up anger against Robin Reeson and his use of deadly force was disproportionate to his mother's distress. But Valdez testified he had seen his mother struck in the face by Reeson in the past. Just before the deadly confrontation, a drunken Reeson yanked a plywood board off a wall and shattered an empty, fifty-gallon fish tank.
Jurors declined comment to 27 News as they left the Iowa County courthouse.