The trial of the so-called NATO 3 ended at 4 p.m. CST today as the jury returned a not guilty verdict, clearing the men of terrorism charges. Found guilty of mob action, their sentencing hearing will be held at a later date. Brent Betterly, Jared Chase and Brian Church had been charged with terrorism under Illinois’ terrorism law, which was passed in the wake of 9/11.
The closing arguments in the two-week trial concluded Thursday. The jury met until 11 p.m. Thursday night to consider the seven charges each that the three men faced. Reconvening this morning at 9:30, the jury took a lunch break at noon. At 2 p.m. the jury sent word to the judge that they had reached a verdict.
The not guilty verdict of terrorism, but guilty of mob action, means the three will will face the possibility of some jail time or probation. Defense attorneys are expected to release a statement later this evening.
With the NATO 3 verdict in, many trial observers say a direction has been set for other states in their use of terrorism laws.
By Jerry Nelson