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Updated February 3, 2001, 11:28 p.m. ET
Jury of seven men and five women acquit Mark Chmura  

WAUKESHA, Wis. — It took a jury of seven men and five women only three hours to find former Green Bay Packer Mark Chmura not guilty, and one of those hours was spent eating dinner.

The 31-year-old all pro sat expressionless when the jury first filed back into the courtroom, the way he has throughout the course of the trial. But as Circuit Court Judge Mark Gempeler started reading the verdict on the first count of third degree sexual assault, the 6-foot, 5-inch behemoth stared straight down at the defense's table, closed his eyes, and cried.

Upon seeing this reaction, some of the jurors also started weeping, engulfed in a moment that tugged at the heartstrings of everyone in the courtroom. Outside the doors, about 20 people, many wearing Green Bay Packers clothing, screamed their delight. Lynda Chmura, Mark's wife, threw her head back and started crying as well.

The judge read the verdict, finding Chmura not guilty on the charge of child enticement, the more severe of the two charges. If convicted on both, he could have faced 40 years in prison.

Immediately after he was acquitted on both counts, Chmura held hands with his defense team, defense lawyer Gerald Boyle, his daughter and co-counsel Bridget Boyle, and lawyer Jonathan Smith. He thanked them while wiping away the tears, and then gave his wife an exaggerated hug. His two hulking brothers, each as tall or taller than their more famous sibling, were teary-eyed as well.

District Attorney Paul Bucher, who'd already been beaten up earlier in the day when Boyle attacked him during his powerful closing arguments, sat with a discouraged look on his face. When the judge ended the court session, he quickly loaded his belongings and fled the courtroom.

Chmura, his wife, his defense team and friend and advisor John Dhrana walked to the bottom floor of the Waukesha County Courthouse where the media has been gathered these last 12 days. He gave a brief statement, thanking Jesus, his wife, his lawyers and the jury. His wife, a mere 5 feet 4 inches, stared up at her husband with a look of adoration, and sobbed.

Chmura plans to conduct a more lengthy press conference Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET. He is expected to disclose his future plans at the conference and comment about whether he will return to football.

Boyle talked to the media for 20 minutes, extolling his praise to the jury for making a fast and right decision.

"The biggest problem I had was overconfidence of victory," he said.


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