A 48-year-old grocery store worker who went to sea to make some extra money was acquitted of killing his captain in a struggle over the only lifejacket on the sinking boat.
Alvin Latham hugged his defense lawyer after the verdict was read late Monday.
"My heart is exploding," he said.
The jury in Diamond deliberated for about six hours before returning the 10-2 decision.
Latham faced a life sentence without parole if convicted of the death of Raymond "Tinky" Leiker, 35. Leiker died during a storm that sank the shrimp boat in Breton Sound in July 2000.