OPINION: It was the case that captivated a nation.
Some say it was the months-long mystery surrounding the shooting of Feilding farmer Scott Guy that captured the public's imagination, or the photogenic faces of the people involved, or the Shakespearean twist when Ewen Macdonald was arrested and charged with murdering his wife's brother.
While all that surely played a part in propelling the case into the spotlight like few before it, its resonance with New Zealanders was powered by something much stronger than that. Put simply, the Guy family are all of us.
They are ordinary, decent people who were visited by an unthinkable act of evil that tore their lives apart.
We didn't just sympathise with them, we empathised with them.
There was no reason that they should have been touched by such a tragedy, and therefore no reason that it couldn't have been any one of us.
That's why their story touched so many people, and that's why all of New Zealand hoped the trial of Ewen Macdonald would provide the Guy family with some answers, and perhaps some form of closure.
Unfortunately, the four weeks of evidence, culminating in yesterday's not guilty verdict, has seemingly thrown up more questions than answers.
It's unlikely there will ever be a definitive resolution to the question that has perplexed this region since July 8, 2010: Who shot Scott Guy?
With the question still open, and many frustrated that the justice system failed to answer it, the void is already being filled with speculation, criticism of the police, and all sorts of other nonsense.
We should remind ourselves that a person being found not guilty at the end of a criminal trial is incredibly common.
The police investigated a crime with dedication and diligence, gathered evidence that pointed to Macdonald as the killer and the courts ruled he had a case to answer.
That case went ahead and a jury of Macdonald's peers took more than 12 hours to determine the evidence did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Naturally, some people in this community disagree with that verdict, but it was the product of a fair and proper process and it must be respected.
Yesterday, Scott Guy's father, Bryan, fronted the media and spoke of his family's desire to turn the page on this terrible chapter of their lives and move on.
His graciousness was truly remarkable, and should serve as an example to us all.
All that is left now is to wish there are happier times ahead for the Guy family and, as a community, do whatever we can to ensure that hope is realised.
- © Fairfax NZ News