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court-father071107.jpg Submitted by WWAY on Wed, 07/11/2007 - 9:49am.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- The New Hanover County grand jury has reached a decision in its inquiry into whether former deputy Chris Long committed any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Peyton Strickland.

When the judge announced that there was not a true bill of indictment on voluntary manslaughter charges, Long sobbed in relief.

Long, members of his family as well as Peyton Strickland's father were in the courtroom when the announcement was made.

Donald Strickland did not comment on the decision, he only shook his head.

The Strickland family did release a statement saying the grand jury's decision not to indict long compounds the family's tragedy.

Chris Long himself did not make any comments, his father however did.

Harry Long said, "We are pleased with the outcome. It has been very difficult for everyone involved. We have had faith in the system and in god. We hope that we will be able to move forward from the situation."

What will happen from here is still a big question.

The Strickland family has not made any comment on whether it plans to file a civil suit.

Chris Long's attorneys would not address that issue either.

New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey would not comment on the grand jury's decision. He did however say he would consider rehiring Long or allowing him to resign from the department instead of being fired.

Causey says he has not made a decision yet.

Strickland's family issued a statement saying the refusal by the grand jury to indict Long compounds their tragedy: "Our unarmed 18-year-old son, Peyton, was killed when Chris Long, a deputy sheriff, fired three bullets from a submachine gun through the front door of Peyton’s house while he was answering the unlocked door. The failure of the grand jury to indict Long on any charge compounds our family’s tragedy."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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