On a cold January night 18 months ago, Richard Rodriguez, 24, was jumped, robbed and set ablaze at the intersection of Guadalupe and South San Marcos streets.
He was burned over 85 percent of his body but survived.
Witnesses later identified Juan Robles, 38, as Rodriguez’s attacker.
However, on Tuesday afternoon, a jury found Robles not guilty in the attack.
“No independent scientific evidence, no independent witnesses implicates Juan on any level,” Defense Attorney Ernest Acevedo had told the jury during closing arguments.
He suggested that the state’s witnesses -- all admitted gang members -- lied to protect each other and that the real attacker was among them.
“No one wants to convict an innocent man, but by golly, you need to convict a man who would be capable of doing this,” countered Prosecutor David Lunan.
“And he’s sitting right there and he was pointed to you five different times from people,” Lunan added.
Though on trial for attempted capital murder, the jury can consider lesser included offenses of aggravated robbery or aggravated assault.