ATLANTA (WXIA)-- Friday morning, a jury found Tamara Cotman not guilty of influencing a witness in connection with the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.
The jury began deliberating on Thursday in the case. Cotman and 33 other educators, including former superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, still face racketeering charges in the cheating scandal.
Witness testimony concluded Wednesday. The jury of eight women and four men began deliberating after lunch Thursday.
The state brought dozens of witnesses during the trial to show the overall problems in the school system. The Assistant District Attorney, Fani Willis, said the goal was to show the motive for former Atlanta Public schools district director Tamara Cotman to influence witnesses.
During her closing, Willis told jurors that the scandal had cheated children, and that Cotman's incentive to hinder the investigation was to hold on to her job as an APS administrator.
Defense attorney Benjamin Davis presented a succession of witnesses who said they never saw Cotman order any cheating. But Cotman never testified in her own defense.
During his closing Davis said the jury must stick with the charge against her, and no one ever claimed Cotman cheated.
Cotman was charged with influencing a witness, a former interim principal named Jimmye Hawkins. This week, Hawkins testified that Cotman called a meeting that included a suggestion by Cotman that the principals tell investigators to "go to hell." Cotman has pleaded not guilty.
Wednesday, Davis asked for a mistrial after prosecutor Clint Rucker asked a witness if Cotman committed a crime by "hiding" CRCT test cheating. Davis argued that Rucker was "introducing a new crime" with which Cotman wasn't charged. Judge Jerry Baxter denied the mistrial motion but ordered the jury to disregard the question and the affirmative answer of the witness, attorney Jim Hollis.