CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) - It took a week for jurors to hear all the testimony, but only three hours to reach a verdict in the case of a man charged with child molestation and statutory sodomy after accidentally crawling into the bed of a nine-year-old girl at the Ritz Carleton hotel in Clayton in 2011.
The defendant, Daniel Hughes maintained he was in a drunken stupor when he asked the desk clerk for the wrong room key that led him to the girl's bedroom.
Testimony earlier in the day Monday included a toxicologist`s estimate that Hughes was drunk by three times the legal limit after having 13 drinks that same evening.
Hughes and his family were elated as the verdict was read. They huddled outside the courthouse hugging after the trial.
'I am thrilled for Dan and thrilled for his family,' said defense attorney Scott Rosenblum. 'It has been a huge burden on this family for three years,' he said.
Hughes had been facing statutory sodomy and child molestation charges.
'These charges are the worst type of charges and I always believed in my client and believed they were unfounded and I am glad the jury agreed with us,' Rosenblum said.
Jurors reached the verdict so quickly they were back in the courtroom before the dinner they ordered arrived.
Those we spoke with say there simply was not enough solid evidence that the manner in which Hughes touched the girl constituted molestation.
'The charges that they gave us to deliberate on, that was the tough part,' said juror Kena Buford. 'If they came up with a lesser charge than maybe something could have turned around,' she said.
Although this trial is over, for the little girl`s family there is more to come because they are suing the Ritz Carlton for more than $5 million.
Buford said knowing that had no effect on the jury`s decision.
'Our heart went out to the little girl,' Buford said, 'but we had to keep it in our minds what we were there for.'