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Jury decides fate of former soccer coach accused of killing ex-girlfriend's son

CANTON, N.Y. -- A black former college soccer coach accused of killing of his ex-girlfriend’s 12-year-old son has been found not guilty in New York.

Oral “Nick” Hillary was tried for second-degree murder in the 2011 killing of Garrett Phillips. Hillary hugged his lawyer and cried Wednesday morning as Judge Felix Catena made his ruling.

The boy was choked to death in an apartment in Potsdam, a college town near the Canadian border. Prosecutors lacked DNA or fingerprint evidence and relied on a largely circumstantial case.

Hillary’s lawyers argued the case was weak and repeated the claims of critics who said authorities in the largely white community unjustly prosecuted him.

Hillary was the head soccer coach at Clarkson University. He and his daughter had lived with Garrett’s mother until the relationship ended.