A Texas bus driver accused of manslaughter was acquitted by a local jury on Thursday after the members had stopped to pray to God for guidance.
Jerry Cook, former bus driver for Pasadena Independent School District, was brought up on the charges, initially for murder, after he had accidentally run over a 9-year-old girl, Ruth Young, just outside Houston.
"God led us to make the right decision," juror Cedric Kissam said after the verdict, according to the Houston Chronicle. "It was an accident. It wasn't reckless driving."
The nine-day case was described as being emotional, and the jury explained that there was no evidence to exhibit that the incident was no more than a "tragic accident." Thus, they could not find him guilty.
"Some people looked at it because a little girl was killed and wanted someone to pay," added Kissam. "But nobody wants to put someone away for an accident."
The parents of Ruth as well as their attorney, Warren Diepraam, expressed that they were OK with the verdict, and that they would not hold a grudge against Cook. They believed that it was an accident, but the case did draw needed awareness to traffic safety.
"We're Christian people. If we expect to be forgiven by God, we have to forgive," said father Mark Young in the Houston Chronicle. "I don't think it was ever his intention to hurt anyone."
The jurors were sequestered on Wednesday night after four hours of deliberation and then came to a conclusion after more discussion on Thursday. Besides praying for guidance about the case, they also prayed for Ruth's parents and for Cook. According to Kissam, there was no other discussion of religion, and he did not know his fellow juror's beliefs.
Several individuals have questioned whether or not the death should have gone to court in the first place since it lacked evidence towards murder. Cook's defense attorney, Robert Fickman, understood that the prosecutor was just doing what they "thought was their job," however.
The bus driver, who was seen praying with his family just before the decision was read, was relieved by the final outcome.
"I thank the Lord for the victory," he concluded just after the verdict.