FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Two former DeSoto County Correctional deputies were found not guilty this Wednesday afternoon for their roles in an inmate beating and covering it up. Steven Rizza and Jonathan Mause were both on trial in federal court.
The US Attorney confirmed jurors handed down a not guilty verdict. This case came about after pictures surfaced of Jody Holland's beating, which he says happened last year.
"Today is the first day they can get on in clearing his good name." Sean O'Halloran's client Steven Rizza is a free man. The former corrections officer was accused of beating up inmate Jody Holland.
Prosecutors say Rizza's co-worker Jonathon Mause tried to cover the whole thing up. But after a nearly month-long trial, jurors found both men not guilty Wednesday afternoon. Rizza's attorney argues Holland's wounds are self-inflicted.
"I think the evidence in the case showed, the alleged victim in the case engaged in a plan of basically injuring himself and exacerbating those injuries in order to avoid prosecution to get out of jail," said O'Halloran.
Mause's attorney David Joffe tells WINK News over the phone what worked in his client's favor was Jody Holland himself. "I don't know that the jury believed Jody Holland," said Joffe. "They saw my client as an honest guy, trying to assist in the investigation, trying to do the best he possibly could."
But not everyone gets a not guilty verdict in this case.
Earlier this year, jail captain Raymond Kugler pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent in the Holland case. He's serving 3 years probation. Another former deputy, Vincent Carlucci, is serving 10 months in federal prison for obstruction of justice.
As for Jody Holland, he was under arrest last year for battery and violating a restraining order. He is out of jail tonight.
Those deputies meanwhile can't get their jobs back. The DeSoto County Sheriff's Office tells WINK News they were let go for a policy violation last year.