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Associated Press, Published November 08 2013

Teen acquitted in near-fatal beating of Minnesota man

ST. PAUL — Jurors on Friday acquitted a 19-year-old man in the near-fatal beating of a St. Paul man this summer.

The Ramsey County jury acquitted Issac Oneal Maiden on all four counts he faced in the gang beating that nearly killed 27-year-old Ray Widstrand.

After the verdict, Judge Salvador Rosas told Maiden, "You dodged one here."

"I would suggest you think about what you've been doing," Rosas told Maiden. If Maiden doesn't change his behavior and associates, the judge said, "I have no doubt you'll be back."

Prosecutors argued that credible witnesses identified Maiden as one of the attackers. Maiden's attorney said his client had nothing to do with the beating.

Maiden, of St. Paul, was charged with first-degree robbery and assault, as well as committing those crimes for the benefit of a gang. He is the only adult defendant charged in Widstrand's beating.

Police say Widstrand was taking a late-night walk on St. Paul's east side on Aug. 4 when he tried to walk through a group of 30 to 50 juveniles and young adults who were fighting.

Witnesses told police he was attacked for no reason. Prosecutors say Widstrand's speech and ability to walk remain impaired.

After the verdict, jurors said there were conflicting accounts of the attack and little hard evidence of Maiden's alleged involvement.

Maiden's attorney, Bruce Wenger, said he was "thrilled" by the verdict.

In a statement, prosecutors said they were disappointed by the verdict, but "will respect it and move forward to the remaining cases."

Four other teens face charges, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1hrFrrs ) reported.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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