NEW ORLEANS -- A jury found star Tulane University football player Trent Mackey not guilty of setting up an armed robbery on a co-worker at an apartment near the Tulane campus.
With a promising football career hanging in the balance, Mackey faced 99 years if convicted. The jury deliberated for three hours Friday afternoon before coming back with a verdict of not guilty.
Mackey was visibly relieved when the verdict came down after a four-day trial, while his family cried tears of joy in the courtroom.
In July 2012, Mackey, 23, was arrested in connection with a home invasion. According to police, he was arrested for setting up the crime and pretending to be a victim. Mackey was accused of staging the robbery but posing as a victim. The property taken in the heist was marijuana, and the victim who called police was forced to admit she was dealing the drugs.
Mackey, however, claimed he had nothing to do with the armed robbery of the co-worker and fellow student at her apartment on Broadway Street Uptown.
"This trial should not have happened. This was a travesty," Rick Kohnke, Mackey's defense attorney, said. "This is an example of an abuse of power by the prosecutor's office who refused to properly investigate and review the police department's sloppy work. It shouldn't have happened."
"The most important thing is getting my degree in sociology, and that's what I did this past spring. Football is secondary, but if I get the opportunity, I'll put my all into it and play ball," Mackey said after the verdict. "Go Wave."
Mackey was booked with armed robbery after police said 19-year-old Robert Murray and another gunman burst into the victim’s unlocked apartment and stole her laptop, cell phone and purse.
Police said Murray, who was already convicted in the case, implicated Mackey in a statement taken after his arrest. Murray was compelled to testify after his intent to invoke the Fifth Amendment was revealed. Murray's request to invoke the Fifth Amendment was denied by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.
On the stand, Murray said police told him that Mackey had implicated him in the crime. Murray said he, in turn, lied to pin the robbery on Mackey. Murray is appealing his conviction.
Mackey was a red-shirt senior at Tulane. He played for the Green Wave in 2010 and 2011, after transferring from Duke. Mackey was selected as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year in Conference USA.
The next step for Mackey's football career is to apply for reinstatement to the Green Wave.