Leobardo Nunez Jr., of Whiting, was found not guilty Wednesday on two counts of child molestation.
The jury reached its verdicts on the felonies Wednesday afternoon after a two-day trial that began Tuesday.
Nunez, 28, was charged May 22, 2017, with child molestation, a Level 1 felony, and child molestation, a Level 4 felony.
Lake County prosecutors alleged at trial Nunez groped his then-girlfriend's 7-year-old daughter the night of Aug. 13, 2016, at their residence in the 3600 block of Kansas Street in Lake Station.
The girl testified Tuesday Nunez came to her during a sleepover and poked her “privates.”
Defense attorney John Cantrell questioned the veracity of the girl's statements in opening arguments Tuesday. Without physical evidence tying Nunez to the abuse, prosecutors relied on the 7-year-old girl's testimony and the testimony of an 11-year-old girl who alleged Nunez rubbed her legs the same night.
"Leo may have killed someone in the past, but that doesn’t give The Lake Station Police Department the right to file charges on him without doing any investigation. They presumed him guilty, without interviewing supposed eyewitnesses. I am so happy he was acquitted. He didn’t deserve to be charged with this terrible crime that would have put him behind bars for the rest of his life," Cantrell said Wednesday
Nunez was at one point the youngest inmate in state prison after he was convicted at age 14 of reckless homicide. He was charged in that case with fatally shooting a 23-year-old Hammond man in October 2003. He was initially charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to the homicide offense and was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.