Jury finds Lions' Fairley not guilty of DUI
The trial took three days nearly three years after the incident, but a jury in Mobile, Alabama acquitted Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley of his driving under the influence charge from May 2012, according to local reports.
However, Fairley was found guilty of a related and less serious reckless driving charge, which cost him a $500 fine.
Fairley's trial in Mobile County Circuit Court before Judge Sarah Stewart reached its conclusion Friday as the jury ruled not guilty on the more after more than two hours of deliberation, according to reports.
"I feel great," Fairley said, according to AL.com. "I just want to get this behind me and move forward."
With the ruling, Fairley should avoid the standard two-game suspension from the NFL for a DUI, which should only help him when he hits the open market as a free agent next month.
"I'm ready to go back to Houston to start training, rehabbing and get ready for all these teams to come look at me," Fairley said, according to AL.com.
During the trial that began Wednesday with a lengthy jury selection process due to Fairley's fame in his hometown, Fairley's now-fiancée Fatima Alhassan said Fairley only had one drink hours before being pulled over and the red Solo cup with alcohol in the car was hers.
Fairley faced a maximum of one year in jail plus thousands of dollars in fines if convicted of DUI, according to AL.com.
Fairley was arrested in May 2012 after allegedly driving faster than 100 miles per hour with the open container of alcohol in his Cadillac Escalade. The state trooper who stopped Fairley testified during the trial Fairley refused a blood-alcohol test when booked into Mobile County Metro Jail.
The arrest was Fairley's second in 2012, but his misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession was later dropped. Since that tumultuous offseason, Fairley has been clean, but this case lingered. He rejected a plea deal in December and had several other appeals that slowed the process.
Fairley has an uncertain future with the Lions, who last year rejected the fifth-year option on his rookie contract that would've kept him under contract in 2015. Fairley played well in the first eight games, but missed the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Signing All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the Lions' top priority this offseason, and if he's back, it's hard to imagine Fairley returning.