BEDFORD - After 45 minutes of deliberation Thursday evening, a Bedford County jury acquitted Randy Scott Foor of two charges in the death of his longtime friend, Dennis Sprigg of Manns Choice.
Foor, 52, of Bedford Township who had remained stone-faced throughout the two day-trial, burst with emotion as a court clerk read the verdict, embracing defense attorney Thomas Dickey as his rows of supporters gasped and cried with relief.
"The truth won," Foor said as he left the courtroom. He fought back tears at the mention of Sprigg, who died in a coma last year after Foor pushed him to the ground - in self-defense, Dickey maintained - amid a drunken argument.
Sprigg's mother, Shirley Sprigg, quietly left the courtroom as Foor's family and supporters celebrated.
"My son's death doesn't mean anything to anybody," she said.
Foor had faced charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in the incident, which witnesses claimed was sparked by an alcohol-fueled argument between the close friends. Last year, he withdrew a guilty plea to manslaughter to face a jury trial.
Dickey pressed a self-defense argument for much of the case, portraying Sprigg as a physically tough weightlifter who angrily confronted Foor after hours of drinking.
As Sprigg shoved his finger in Foor's face, witnesses claimed, the defendant pushed him back with both hands. The push reportedly caused Sprigg to fall backward, striking his head off a concrete surface and suffering fatal blunt force trauma.
In closing arguments Thursday, Higgins portrayed Foor's immediate reaction - tearfully apologizing to his unconscious friend - as those of an assailant, not a man who had defended himself.
"When you take your hands and push someone to the ground, that is not an accident," he said.
Foor later visited his wounded friend in the hospital and, when he died, attended his funeral. A mutual friend described the men as "like brothers," despite occasional squabbles.
The fatal argument began when Sprigg asked Foor to let him onto his softball team, witnesses recalled. It later mushroomed into a confusing drunken fight over who had been in more car accidents, they said.
After the trial, Dickey called the defense an uphill battle, but said jurors had likely imagined themselves in the case.
"You don't have to take a beating. You don't have to get smacked," he told jurors in closing arguments. Two witnesses, both teenage brothers and relatives of Foor, testified that Sprigg had been the aggressor.
As the courtroom emptied, Higgins said Foor will have to live with his guilt regardless of the verdict.
"I don't like to cry over spilled milk," he said. "It was a tough case."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.