Not guilty—it’s the two words Kevin Jones had been praying for and after nine hours of deliberations, and the two words a Franklin County jury delivered. (See story link below pictures.)
Friday, many people who've been following the murder trial expressed shock. Alyson Courtney spent time Friday on the campus of Arkansas Tech where Dirksmeyer was a student.
It's where Nona Dirksmeyer, a beauty queen and choir major, pursued her dream of becoming a singer. Fellow Arkansas Tech students say she hasn't left their thoughts since being murdered two years ago.
Tech senior Veronica Lanier says, “I was a little disappointed and shocked like I say I was one of those people that had kind of already made up my mind before the trial even started.”
Lanier is not alone in always suspecting Nona’s longtime boyfriend Kevin Jones.
“It just seemed like there was a lot of evidence stacked up against him,” she says.
Michael Brence says, “I was surprised I thought a bloody palm print on the light bulb would have been enough based on the fact that he's watched the shows that say how to get away with it and he's basically pulled it off in my opinion.”
Jones, the only suspect in the case, remained adamant through it all about his innocence.
Bruce Shaver explains, “I don't know who did it. I haven't followed up to know the evidence. I do hope justice is served,” says.
Justin Ratliff says, “You know, I heard about DNA evidence and how a lot of it got tainted and stuff, and so I really don't know. I just hope maybe the way it was supposed to be came out.”
Nona Dirksmeyer’s parents aren't talking about the verdict and Jones' doubters aren't surprised.
Brence adds, “To have the evidence in my opinion to convict him and then him walk away from it without anything it's tragic for the family,” says. “It’s tragic for her friends and it's tragic for him because it's gonna follow him for the rest of his life, too.”
A Russellville police lieutenant who didn't want to go on camera called the verdict "sad" and told us changes have been made within the department since Dirksmeyer’s murder.
Today's THV received a statement from the department Friday. It says they will "be evaluating and debriefing" on the case, but "any future action will be up to the prosecutor. They also send condolences to the Dirksmeyer family.