A little more than a year after Huey “Rocky” Stanley, the stepson of Gypsy Sisters star Nettie Stanley, was stabbed to death outside a YMCA in Kingsport, Tennessee, a jury has determined that the man who killed Rocky was not guilty of first degree murder and acted in self defense.
The verdict came earlier today after a three-day trial at the Sullivan County Justice Center in Blountville, Tennessee. According to Times News, now-22-year-old Zachary Gardner was in tears after the verdict was read. In contrast, the site reports that “Stanley’s family became upset at the verdict and had to be escorted from the courtroom by police.”
The defense team tried to establish throughout the trial that Rocky was the aggressor and Zachary acted in self defense — and it appears their version of the story was believed by the jury of seven men and five women. “The jury agreed he was acting in self-defense,” said Assistant Public Defender Andrew Gibbons. “I don’t know that the jury had any other choice.”
Zachary Gardner’s father, Roger Gardner, said of the verdict: “I feel like it was the right decision.” He did express empathy for Rocky’s relatives. “I feel sorry for the Stanley family, I do. But I feel like it was the right decision.” Roger added, “I can sleep now.”
At the time of this post, the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office had yet to comment on the verdict.
Throughout the trial, multiple witnesses seemed to agree on the basic narrative of what happened on the night of the stabbing. Four young males were playing basketball at the YMCA when Huey Stanley and two of his cousins arrived and asked to play. The four teens declined, so Huey and his cousins left. The three of them later returned and began to heckle the four teens on the court.
The heckling was reportedly focused on one of the teens in particular, Zachary Gardner’s 15-year-old brother. Rocky reportedly asked the teen his age, then stated that he wouldn’t fight him because he was too young. Rocky reportedly said he had just turned 18, although he was 22 at the time.
According to the witnesses, the 15-year-old then told Rocky that if he really wanted to fight he could call his older brother Zachary. Rocky said to make the call.
From Times News:
Gardner arrived while they were gone, and when the trio returned, both parties left their vehicles and walked toward one another.
Gardner and Albert Cornell began talking. The teen said both men exhibited calm demeanors. While the two were talking, Stanley struck Gardner in the side of the head, sending him reeling backward.
Stanley pulled Gardner’s shirt over his head and ripped his shirt, according to the teen.
The fight lasted 10-15 seconds and ended when Stanley grabbed Gardner’s neck.
The parties all left, with the Cornell brothers rushing their cousin to the hospital, where he would later be pronounced dead.
According to WCYB, Zachary Gardner will be released later tonight.