Jury acquits ex-cop of perjury charge

Ex-Philadelphia police officer Steven Lupo is accused of a warrantless search of a drug suspect's car and then lying about it on the stand. A jury acquitted him of the charges.

THE JURY was not out long on this one.

Two days of testimony in the perjury trial of former Philadelphia Police Officer Steven Lupo ended with a 'not guilty' verdict after about 45 minutes of deliberation.

Lupo, accompanied by his tearful wife and supporters, said he was "very thankful" following the verdict.

"The jury made the right decision," he said. "I'm very humbled by it."

The defense and prosecution took turns arguing whether Lupo, a six-year veteran who lost his job following the charges, had made an error due to bad memory or had intentionally given false testimony about a 2011 arrest.

"The jury has spoken," Assistant District Attorney Sybil Murphy said.

"I saw the case in a very different light, obviously," she said. "I respect [the jury's] verdict. I know they focused."

In 2011, Lupo and his then-partner from the 14th District pulled over a driver for running a stop sign. The driver later was charged with marijuana possession when a warranted search of his vehicle recovered about 2 pounds of the substance.

Lupo initially testified that he never opened the trunk of the vehicle. Later surveillance video showed Lupo and a sergeant on the scene opening the trunk and looking inside.

The judge in the case excluded the drug evidence because the trunk was opened without a warrant. Prosecutors dropped the charges against the vehicle owner.

According to state law, in order for the defendant to be guilty of perjury, he must not believe that what he is saying under oath is true. Defense Attorney Brian McMonagle argued that prior to seeing the video, Lupo had not remembered the 20-second period during which the trunk was open that day.

Murphy said in her closing remarks yesterday that Lupo intentionally had left the trunk-opening out of the reports and his testimony because the act was on rocky ground legally.

She said the system relies on the accuracy of police testimony. "There are no passes for getting it almost accurate," she said.

Yesterday the jury cleared Lupo of perjury, false swearing and obstruction of justice.

Last year the District Attorney's Office charged Lupo with a second count of perjury and related charges for testimony in a different case, scheduled for trial July 14.

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