A motorcycle club president was acquitted on Wednesday in the killing of another man during a fight outside a South Troy tavern last year. When the verdict was read, the packed courtroom erupted in screams and shouts from the victim’s family.
Edward Jidoun, 44, of Waterford, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the stabbing death of Douglas Berben, 47, of Troy on June 16 in Frear Alley outside of the Nature’s Pub.
“There is no question it was the right verdict,” said Jidoun’s attorney, Stephen R. Coffey.
Coffey, who has tried several homicide cases, said he’s never seen a courtroom erupt like it did Wednesday when the verdict was read.
“Jidoun admitted he killed him and the family of the deceased obviously thought he should be convicted. They went crazy. I understand that part and the emotion,” Coffey said.
“This courtroom was filled with people screaming and shouting,” he said. “People came out screaming and yelling. People were spitting. There were at least 15 sheriff and police officers there for crowd control. I’ve never seen such an emotional verdict.”
Coffey said Jidoun had compelling proof that he acted in self defense when he stabbed Berben. Coffey also said the prosecution presented conflicting eyewitness testimony at the trial .
He said it’s difficult to say if any one thing convinced the jury to acquit Jidoun, noting that Jidoun was a biker who admitted stabbing someone and was not an outwardly sympathetic character.
“We got a verdict. We live with it,” said Coffey. “ I feel bad for the family, but we are delighted with the verdict.”
Jidoun, of the Bronx, was president of the 69ers Motorcycle Club, Troy chapter, and on Monday testified at the trial that he stabbed Berben on June 16 in Frear Alley in self-defense. The two were arguing over a woman, and he said Berben took out a knife during the fight.
Deputy District Attorney Dan Hanlon said Jidoun went to the bar with other members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club to attack Berben in cold blood. Hanlon also said that Berben did not have a knife.
“We are obviously disappointed,” said District Attorney Richard McNally. “We feel terribly for the victim’s family. We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict, but obviously accept it.”
The trial lasted more than a week in Rensselaer County and the jury deliberated for about 13 hours. It was sequestered Tuesday evening and sent to a hotel and reached its verdict on Wednesday afternoon after a day of deliberations.
During the trial, friends and family of Jidoun and Berben packed into the courthouse and additional police and security officers were assigned to the courthouse on Wednesday in anticipation of a verdict.
After the verdict, Jidoun and Coffey were led out of the Rensselaer County Courthouse surrounded by security guards.
Jidoun, who drives a truck for a living, is expected to return to work.
If convicted of murder, he faced 25 years to life.