Robert Goode and his wife, J.J., plan to play in the snow Thursday.

She's got the day off from her graveyard job at the steel plant.And he's got nothing planned.

Besides, it's been a while since Goode, 29, played in the snow: He has spent the past 21/2 years in the Los Angeles County Jail.

Last Thursday, a 12-member Los Angeles Superior Court jury exonerated him of first-degree murder charges.

Police arrested Goode, who operated his own private investigations business, on June 25, 1986, and accused him of being a hired gunman in the Jan. 13, 1986, death of businessman Frank Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, 47, was shot five times while walking in the parking lot behind the Glendale Phone Mart, a company of which Fitzpatrick was president.

From their modest basement apartment in Orem, Goode, tall and gentle-spoken, and J.J., attractive and headstrong, the Goodes spoke with the Deseret News Tuesday night about the grief the charges have brought them, the pains of separation and of life in jail without bail, and, finally, about the triumph of their faith that a jury would find him not guilty.

In an interview shortly after Goode's arrest, J.J. Goode said, "I know he was framed . . . It just doesn't make sense he would kill someone."

The jury that heard four weeks of testimony in December and the first part of January apparently reached the same conclusion after six days of deliberations.

Los Angeles prosecutors based their case largely on the statements of Goode's former business partner, Hans Tietz. Goode, who went to California for about six months in late 1985 and early 1986 to do temporary collections work, lived with Tietz at Tietz' apartment in Costa Mesa, which is south of Glendale.

Tietz, who was granted immunity for his testimony, told police that Goode said he killed Fitzpatrick and that the businessman was shot with Goode's own 9mm handgun.

After Goode was arrested at the American Fork police station, where he had gone on a business matter June 25, 1986, California and local police searched his house, on north Fourth West in Orem.

"They tore the place apart," recalled J.J. Goode, who was in shock at the time because of the arrest. "They literally took our car apart and then said, `Here's where you can find it.' "

Police recovered a 9mm semiautomatic handgun in Goode's house and later matched it ballistically to slugs recovered at the scene of the crime.

Prosecutors, who sought the death penalty, alleged Goode was given a Mercedes Benz as payment for the killing, but that theory was disproved when Goode was able to show he obtained the vehicle as payment from a legitimate client.

Goode and his attorney, Steven Kaplan, a Los Angeles County public defender, were also able to show the jury that Tietz and at least one other person had access to the gun, which Goode kept in Tietz' apartment, and that those men had had business dealings Fitzpatrick. Until he was arrested, Goode said he'd never heard of Fitzpatrick.

The defense case attacked Tietz' credibility because he was a drug user and punched other holes of doubt in the prosecution's case. For instance, the prosecution could never prove who allegedly hired Goode and had no witnesses to the murder.> Goode said he doesn't think the prosecution ever thought they had a great case as they offered him plea bargains in months preceding the trial. "They tried several times to get me to crack and tell them who else was involved in the murder. But I had nothing to do with it. I am not guilty. I had nothing to tell them.

"I believe in the jury system. That's why I went to trial."

The weakness of the case apparently led prosecutors to drop their pursuit of the death penalty the third day into the trial, Goode said.

Despite being charged with the most serious crime on the books and despite having to spend a prime chunk of his life in jail, where he witnessed five homicides and countless other incidents of degradation and violence, Goode is not bitter about his ordeal, although he had some words of advice to investigators. "I think they should take time to become more familiar with the motives of the people who are giving them information."

His wife, however, is angry that the system wrongly accused her husband and that people were so quick to believe the charges, which ostracized her from the community and led to their 12-year-old son's being taunted and teased by thoughtless peers at schools.

They said now they are determined to build their lives again after having lost their home, two automobiles and other worldly possessions in the wake of the charges. They had high praise for friends, neighbors and relatives who are helping them make the trek back to normalcy.

Goode said he will probably try his hand at marketing or business management, possibly enrolling soon in classes at Utah Valley Community College.

But he's in no hurry. He's got a wife and son whom he hasn't seen for a long time. There's a lot of catching up to do.