Co-defendant acquitted in Washington bar shooting deaths
By Aaron Aupperlee
Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 1:57 p.m.

A tearful Gregory Avery thanked jurors as they left a Washington County courtroom moments after acquitting him of killing two men, his attorney said.

“Everything pointed away from Greg Avery,” attorney Michael Deriso said. “I'm happy for my client, and I'm happy for his family.”

Avery, 25, of Washington was the second man arrested in the February 2009 killings of Marquis Taylor, 24, of Washington and Troy Saunders, 23, of Canton outside the former Cabaret West Bar in Washington.

Phillip Whitlock Jr. pleaded guilty to the homicides in April 2012 and then told investigators Avery was the shooter. Whitlock, 29, of Washington testified during Avery's trial and awaits sentencing.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Lucas said he knew Avery's case would be difficult to prosecute.

“We knew that one of the challenges would be that we had witnesses that said nothing initially or were saying more than they had initially,” Lucas said. “The primary bone of contention was the credibility of those witness who would point to Greg Avery as the shooter.”

Deriso said the credibility of Whitlock and other witnesses “was huge” in the case — video evidence presented at the trial did not match their testimony.

Avery was returned to the Washington County Jail after the jury's verdict. He remains there on charges he shot Whitlock's brother six months after the Cabaret West Bar killings. Deriso intends to ask the judge in that case to lower his client's bond based on the outcome of the homicide trial.

Lucas does not expect Friday's verdict to affect his prosecution of the other case.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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