ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- When Martin Aniello walked into the St. Johns County Courthouse on Friday, there was a chance he would walk out in handcuffs and spend the next five years in prison.
"I had a feeling. I had a faith that everything was going to be alright," he told Action News, just days after his acquittal.
The 54-year-old former nursing assistant was arrested in April after a co-worker told police he saw Aniello hold a pillow over a patient's face at the Ponce Therapy Care Center in St. Augustine.
"I thought it's crazy. Absolutely crazy," said Aniello of the charges.
In April, Aniello kept his silence, choosing not to give a statement to police, but that silence fueled rumors of his guilt.
"They read me my Miranda rights and offered me my silence, so I took it. Later, I thought everybody felt like I was some kind of a monster, and I'm not."
Aniello says he was changing the patient's bed, when she pulled the pillow across her, and he grabbed it before it fell to the floor. That's when his co-worker came in the room.
"She didn't want that pillow holding her to her right side because she couldn't move, so she moved it across her body and up toward her face...[The witness] thought I saw him [enter the room] and quickly threw the pillow, but I never threw it. I took it and placed it."
Aniello told Action News he planned to fight from the very beginning, and he's happy his name has been cleared.
"When you're accused of something bad and you know you don't do things, you have to hold true to who you are."
Action News received the following comment from Keely McLaren LeMaster, Executive Vice President for The Ponce Therapy Care Center:
"For the past 28 years our family has provided quality nursing care to our residents in our community. The Ponce Therapy Care Center takes its responsibility for the elderly very seriously and we have proven that we are going to put our residents and their safety first."