BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After being accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, Shane Casado is walking free.

Back in November 2018, Casado had been accused of killing 22-year-old Rachael Wierzbicki outside a home on Edson Street in south Buffalo. Casado, who was 24 at the time, was charged with second-degree murder.

On Thursday afternoon, Casado was acquitted of both second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

A News 4 photographer who was in the courtroom said there was an audible gasp when that verdict was read.

Casado’s attorneys argued he shot Wierzbicki because she was threatening him and he was defending himself.

“I think the reality is Shane never intended for this to happened and the jury saw he never intended this to happen,” said attorney Teo Siguenza. “He’s very happy as I think anybody could see. He’s always been contrite about what happened and he was certainly not happy about what happened that day but it wasn’t murder and it wasn’t manslaughter.”

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he doesn’t buy the self-defense story.

“I thought it was just ridiculous that this poor little girl, and she’s little in stature, somehow was threatening him and he was justified in doing what he did because he was threatened by this little girl,” Flynn told News 4 on the phone Thursday.

Flynn also said he knew there were issues with the case which is why he offered the manslaughter plea pre-trial.

He said the defense rolled the dice by turning it down but says they obviously rolled the dice correctly.

During trial, Casado took the stand and the 911 call he made after shooting Wierzbicki was played in court. Flynn said this likely made an impact on the jury’s decision.

“If you’re a defendant and you take the witness stand in your own defense and you look the jurors in the eyes and you tell them, ‘hey I didn’t mean to do this, I didn’t mean to hurt her, she was coming at me, she threatened me,’ and you look them in the eye and say that a lot of times that in itself creates reasonable doubt,” Flynn said.

Casado’s mother said Thursday she knew he was innocent all along. “I wanna send my condolences to the Wierzbicki family my heart is with them, but this was not an open and shut case,” she said.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed earlier this year, Wierzbicki’s parents named both Casado and his grandmother. They claimed his grandmother should have known that Casado had a gun and a history of violence.

MORE | New lawsuit filed in 2018 death of Rachael Wierzbicki

News 4 will provide more information when it becomes available.

Crime News

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.