06/25/13 — Jurors acquit man of firearm charges

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Jurors acquit man of firearm charges

By John Joyce
Published in News on June 25, 2013 1:46 PM

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Phillip Hardy

A local man has been acquitted on gun charges in Wayne County Superior Court after jurors could not positively identify the defendant from surveillance photos.

Phillip Hardy, 29, of 615 S. Claiborne St., was found not guilty on charges of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Hardy was arrested by Goldsboro police outside of the now defunct Teasers Night Club after an altercation on Nov. 6, 2011.

Surveillance photos from cameras positioned outside the club captured a man who looks like Hardy among the group engaged in the fight. Another photo shows a man in what appears to be the same clothing holding a weapon, but his face is not visible.

That, plus the fact that one of the state's witnesses kept referring to the weapon in question by a different caliber than the prosecution was enough to plant a reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.

Deliberation took just 34 minutes.

A court official with knowledge of the case said at least two witnesses were reluctant to testify.

Records show one witness was threatened by the judge, John E. Nobles Jr., with contempt of court and 30 days in jail if he failed to tell the truth.

"We were confident we had a strong case," said Sgt. Teresa Chiero of the Goldsboro Police Department.

Hardy remains the subject of several local investigations and faces charges in separate cases involving the Goldsboro Police Department, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Johnston County law enforcement. Some are for minor traffic citations, another includes heroin trafficking.