ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A New Jersey detective was acquitted Wednesday of first-degree murder charges in the shooting of a driver in a case of road rage in Maryland.
Jurors in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court also found Joseph Walker not guilty of all other charges, including second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and firearms offenses.
Walker, 41, an investigator for the Hudson County, N.J., prosecutor's office, was arrested after fatally shooting Joseph Harvey of Landsdowne on June 8, 2013, in Annapolis.
According to testimony, Walker was driving his family home from Odenton when his van drifted into Harvey's lane on Route 175.
Walker testified that Harvey forced his van onto a shoulder, and the two drivers got out of their cars, about 50 yards apart. Walker said that when Harvey and a passenger in Harvey's vehicle approached him, he showed his badge and told the men to stop.
Walker said the men continued walking toward him and that he pulled his gun and warned them to stop, but they did not.
Walker testified that he shot Harvey once, turned to the passenger, who had stopped walking, then turned back to Harvey, who he said continued to move toward him, and shot him two more times.
Harvey died at a hospital.
The Capital of Annapolis reports that Charles Curlett Jr., one of Walker's lawyers, said after the verdict, "We are extremely pleased that the jury was able to see this for what it was - a father who was forced to defend his family, including his wife and his children, who were under attack on the side of the road."
State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said she was disappointed by the verdict. She said that Walker had options, such as calling 911 or driving away, instead of fatally shooting Harvey.
The jury deliberated for about six hours over two days before acquitting Walker in the trial that began July 22.