Man Who Shot Burglar Not Guilty Of Murder Thief's Family Outraged By Verdict POSTED: 12:05 pm EDT March 27, 2007 UPDATED: 12:12 pm EDT March 27, 2007 Email This Story | Print This Story Sign Up for Breaking News Alerts TAUNTON, Mass. -- A New Bedford homeowner who fatally shot a man he thought had broken into his house has been acquitted by a Bristol Superior Court jury of second-degree murder. Jurors took just 3½ hours on Monday to decide that Charles Chieppa, 60, was justified in killing Frank Pereira Jr. in June 2004. Chieppa's voice cracked with emotion after the verdict was read as he thanked his family and friends. Chieppa's lawyer, Kevin Reddington, told the jury during closing statements that his client, a Vietnam War veteran, acted in self defense. "When you consider his state of mind, when you consider the circumstances, this was a justifiable homicide by a citizen protecting himself," Reddington said during closing arguments on Monday. The prosecution, while acknowledging that Pereira was a "thief," noted that Chieppa kept a loaded gun in his bedroom and that he shot Pereira in the back. "He reacted that night in anger, it wasn't fearful," Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said during closings. "What does that say about his intent? He decided if there was going to be a problem in his property, he would take care of it." Pereira's family was outraged at the verdict. "No matter the circumstances, nobody deserves to die over property," said Marcey Lugo, Pereira's girlfriend and mother of his 6-year-old son. Chieppa awoke at about 4 a.m. on June 17, 2004, to the sounds of an intruder in his basement, according to trial testimony. He went to his backyard with a semiautomatic handgun where he shot Pereira, who had broken into the basement.