Visalia man acquitted of murder in wife's death

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Jurors have sided with a Visalia man who was on trial for murder in the death of his wife. (KFSN)

Jurors have sided with a Visalia man who was on trial for murder in the death of his wife.

After just two hours of deliberations on Friday, the jury found Terry Geller guilty of only involuntary manslaughter.

Geller stood outside of the Tulare County Courthouse with his attorney, acquitted of murder after a two-week trial where prosecutors accused him of intentionally killing his wife. Geller admitted to the shooting, saying his gun accidentally went off while he was cleaning it back in September of 2007. One bullet went through a bathroom door, hitting 44-year-old Tena Geller in the neck, killing her.

Prosecutors say the fact that Geller made a nine-minute phone call to his parents before even calling 911 shows he's guilty, but jurors disagreed. They found him not guilty of murder and guilty of only involuntary manslaughter.

"The last seven years have just been the hardest thing in the world, and I still have to live with the loss of my wife, but at least I have a good family behind me," Terry Geller told Action News.

After the shooting in 2007, the district attorney's office decided there wasn't enough evidence to charge Geller with a crime. Five years later, the DA's office arrested Geller for murder, but a judge threw out the case at the preliminary hearing. The DA brought the case to the grand jury, who ultimately indicted him on the murder charges.

Geller and his attorney, Michael Idiart, say the jury's verdict truly shows his innocence all these years. Through the charges, Tena's sisters and the couple's children have always stood behind Terry.

"This was never an intentional killing," said Idiart. "She overreached on these charges, she put him through hell for seven years, and finally we've had justice."

"It's almost unbearable just to sit and listen to people who know nothing about me but have an opinion that is just totally opposite of what I really am," said Geller.

The DA's office says they are disappointed with the verdict but that they respect the jury's decision.

Terry Geller will be sentenced on involuntary manslaughter in October. He faces up to five years in prison, but his attorney will be asking for probation.

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trialcourtcourt caseshootingtulare countyVisalia
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