LILY Ridgeway has been found not guilty of murder over the stabbing death of Jason Adams at Raymond Terrace last year, with a jury finding the stabbing was either accidental or the 22-year-old was acting in self-defence.
But, after deliberating for more than 40 hours, the jury remained deadlocked on the alternative charge of manslaughter.
Ridgeway had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Adams and had faced a two-week trial in NSW Supreme Court.
She was accused of stabbing Mr Adams once in the chest, the blade penetrating his heart, during a confrontation outside a house in Payton Street about 5.20am on February 29 last year.
The trial has focused on the "crucial" five-minute window between when Mr Adams, who had been turfed out of the house earlier in the night, returned and when he stumbled down the road, collapsed in the middle of an intersection and died.
During her closing address, Public Defender Madeleine Avenell, SC, had told the jury the combination of evidence from the key witness, Ms Ridgeway's friend Nikita Hanson, who said she saw Mr Adams step forward "closer and closer" to Ms Ridgeway until the knife "entered his body", and the expert opinion of a forensic pathologist meant "at a minimum" the jury could not exclude "the reasonable possibility that Mr Adams walked himself onto the knife".
Ms Avenell also said the jury would not be satisfied the prosecution had excluded the possibility that Ms Ridgeway was acting in self-defence.
And on Friday, after deliberating for about 45 hours, the jury agreed, returning to Sydney Supreme Court and finding Ms Ridgeway not guilty of murder.
The jury were unable to reach a unanimous or majority verdict on the charge of manslaughter and the DPP will now determine whether to run another trial in relation to that matter.
Ms Ridgeway was arrested in March last year and, despite close run bail applications in Newcastle Local Court and Sydney Supreme Court, had spent about 450 days behind bars awaiting trial.
More in tomorrow's Newcastle Herald.
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