BEAUMONT, Texas — A man accused in the 2017 rape and murder of a homeless woman has been found not guilty.
A Jefferson County jury made up of six men and six women returned the not guilty plea for Brandon Coleman on Thursday afternoon.
Coleman was accused of raping and killing a homeless woman, Catherine Jane Dungan, in 2017.
Court documents say police were called to Collier's Ferry Park on Pine Street in Beaumont on June 24, 2017, about a woman's body found by callers.
Dungan's body was found, with her hands tied behind her back, with obvious signs of sexual assault according to a probable cause affidavit.
"I have no doubt Brandon Coleman killed Catherine Dungan," Jimmy Hamm with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office said.
The affidavit says the preliminary autopsy report showed she died from manual asphyxiation by homicide.
"If you choke someone and strangle them, you're going to leave behind your DNA and that was my argument," Hamm said.
Hamm said the judge did not allow Coleman's' past convictions of sexual assault to be brought up during the trial.
"Every one of the jurors I visited mentioned had they known about that they would have found him guilty," Hamm said.
Defense Attorney Sean Villery-Samuel told 12News, "obviously we are excited."
Samuel said Coleman and Dungan were known to have a sexual relationship, and that explains Coleman's DNA on Dungan.
The defense presented cell phone evidence showing that Coleman was at different locations at the time of Dungan's death.
"They were seen together around 3 o'clock. There was someone who saw them at five o'clock and they weren't together, and more importantly, this person says Dungan was alive and well."
A witness at the park told investigators she saw a small silver car at the scene before the body was found according to court documents.
Investigators later found store video from Calder Food Mart showing that Dungan had been seen getting into a small silver car, later identified as a 2005 Ford Focus that was registered to Coleman's mother.
An employee at the gas station told investigators she saw the woman getting into the small silver car with a man according to the documents.
Coleman was later identified from a photo line-up as the person who was seen driving off with Dungan before her death according to the documents.