PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A jury acquitted a 22-year-old man facing a possible life sentence for a murder charge Thursday night.

“Please don’t ever stop fighting for your cases,” defendant Jorge Perez said. “Please don’t ever stop fighting. An example is me, false imprisoned. I’ve been false imprisoned for 30 months and now I get to go home.”

Prosecutors accused Jorge Perez and four others of being involved in a December 2019 robbery that ended with the shooting death of Ed Ross of Panama City Beach.

Perez took the stand Thursday and testified that he was not involved in the crime, that his phone was stolen by the other defendants and that he is trying to turn his life around.

Prosecutors had argued that Perez organized the robbery because Ross was known to have a large quantity of marijuana and cash in his home.

“He’s the one who put them together,” prosecutor Mark Graham said. “He’s the one that put the X on the Ross home. He’s the one that put the guys together. He actually armed one. He needs to be held accountable.”

However, investigators testified that although they believed Perez was there the night of the murder there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

“As far as the 29th for you and all of the things we have been hearing about here, were you involved in any of that?” defense attorney Jean Downing said.

“No, ma’am, I’m trying to change my life ma’am. I ain’t too much into that,” Perez said.

Perez was the second defendant to face trial in the case.

A different jury found Abel Ortiz guilty of first-degree murder in April.