After days of testimony in the criminal trial of Gilbert Sullaway, who was accused of the criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of cyclists Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler in 2009, a jury returned Friday afternoon with a not-guilty verdict.
Investigators said Sullaway hit the couple, who were biking on a tandem bike, after veering off Highway 16 on to the shoulder. Both were killed by the impact.
"My thoughts and prayers have been with them daily and my thoughts and prayers will continue to be with them daily," said Sullaway after the verdict.
Sullaway appeared overjoyed after a jury only took two hours to reach a decision.
Family members quickly embraced Sullaway once the verdict was read.
Earlier in the day, during closing arguments, prosecution had asked the jury what kind of message an acquittal would send to drivers.
"That it’s OK to drive down our roadways and not look where you’re going, that’s okay not to stay in your lane of travel?” questioned Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Lorina Rummel.
In the end, the jury agreed with the defense’s notion that Sullaway made a mistake, but was not criminally negligent.
"It was a tragedy from Day 1, but it was a tragedy to put this man on trial. It wasn’t a crime and I'm shocked anyone thought it was,” said Sullaway’s attorney, Mark Stevens, after the trial.
The case hinged on speed and if Sullaway negligently veered off the road before hitting the bikers. Family members of the Bruehlers shared disappointment with the decision and said the focus now will be on the Bruehler’s now 10-year-old daughter.
"As a Baptism gift, she’s going to get a little cross,” said a choked-up Gary Bruehler, Gregory’s father. “It’s going to have some ashes from her mom and dad."