HOUSTON, NOV. 3 -- A jury quickly acquitted a woman of illegally using a public men's room after she testified she couldn't wait in a long line for the ladies' room.
Jurors deliberated only 23 minutes Friday before acquitting Denise Wells of illegally using the men's room during a July 7 concert at the Summit by country-western star George Strait.
"I'm relieved. I'm elated. The jurors told me, 'You had us all the way,' " Wells, 33, said after the verdict. She laughed and hugged her lawyer, Valorie Wells Davenport, who is also her sister, as the verdict was read.
Wells was ticketed and ordered to leave the concert, for which she had paid $125 for a ticket, after a security guard saw her leave a stall in the men's room.
She faced a $200 fine if convicted under a city ordinance that bars members of one sex from using a public restroom designed for members of the opposite sex in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.
"There was no proof or evidence that she entered in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance," jury forewoman Frieda Felton said.
During a two-day trial, the defense also raised allegations that public places do not provide adequate restroom facilities for women.
Wells testified that she used the men's room in desperation because the ladies' room line was too long. "I felt I was in a situation where I had to be in a restroom," she testified. "I took the only option I felt was available."
She said she covered her eyes and apologized to the men already in the restroom when she entered.
In a videotaped deposition played in court, one of the men testified that it was clear Wells was not trying to create a disturbance and that he sympathized with her.
Air Force Lt. David Keller said that just before Wells entered, he told another man in the restroom, "If I were a woman, I'd just go in here. Nobody should have to stand in that line."