Not guilty of the murder vs. not guilty in the murder

TAMPA, Fla. - It took the jury four hours to find murder defendant Keith Gaillard not guilty in the murder of India Clark.

Should it be “not guilty of the murder” instead?



Yes, the correct phrase is ‘not guilty of the murder’.


This form is also quite common.


Many thanks for pointing this out. I was not aware of it. So, would you say that there is any difference between both versions or are they completely interchangeable?

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Without the article “the” :

“Not guilty in murder.” does not sound right.
“Not guilty of murder.” seems better.

If you add the article “the”, then I think either one is OK.

in the murder.
of the murder.

At first I thought it was the entire phrase “the murder of India Clark” that made the difference. After thinking about it, I think it’s the article that makes the difference, not the entire phrase. Although I can’t explain why. :slight_smile:

Maybe it’s general vs specific?


I think the “in” form probably comes from shortening the phrase “in the murder case of” and so carries a little more legalistic nuance. It seems to emphasize the case, rather than the deed. I’d say they are about 97% interchangeable.


@Arinker, your interpretation makes sense but the question arises as to whether the jury can afford to write their judgment with ambiguity.

There is a marked difference between in the murder of and in the murder case of.

Again, guilty in the murder of and guilty of murdering are different.

As also a student of Law, I would say that the best phrase to refer to the murderer should be guilty of murdering since there can be accomplices in a murder appearing as defendants. So, X can be guilty of murdering Z and Y can be an accomplice in the murder of Z.

I think what I say sounds acceptable. @Torsten, please examine it.


What an unpleasant topic!

@Anglophile , @Kohyoongliat @Torsten

As to where the phrase “in the murder of” comes from, I could certainly be wrong. It was just a guess.

Fortunately, I have never heard first hand a jury“s verdict in a murder trial. I can’t speak to their specialized jargon.

As for current popular usage, a search of the Washington Post web site for “guilty in the murder of” returned the following recent stories.

“On April 21, members of Congress responded to Derek Chauvin being found guilty in the murder of George Floyd…”

“A judge on Thursday delayed the planned August trial for the three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd…” May 13, 2021

“Man pleads guilty in killing of 8 from family
A man pleaded guilty in the murders of his child’s mother and seven other members of her family on Thursday…” April 22, 2021

Interestingly, the original quote above (from a TV station) that started this topic carried the headline “ Man found not guilty of murdering…” then the lead paragraph continues “…not guilty in the murder of…”