Not guilty ­verdict in sexual assault case

ESCANABA — An Escanaba man, accused of sexually assaulting a minor in 2015, was found not guilty of the 15-year felony Thursday evening following a three-day trial in Delta County Circuit Court.

Eric Lee Halfaday, 32, was arrested by Escanaba Public Safety on one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly sexually assaulting a victim under 13 years of age on Nov. 12, 2015, in Escanaba.

Following his arrest, he was lodged in jail in lieu of a $150,000 cash bond.

Earlier this year, Halfaday was bound over from district court to circuit court where he opted to be tried by a jury. He was facing 22 and a half years in prison due to a second-offense notice attached to the 15-year sexual assault felony.

Jury selection took place Tuesday followed by witness testimony and presentation of exhibits. A total of 11 witnesses and the defendant testified in court Tuesday through Thursday afternoon.

Following closing arguments by Assistant Prosecutor Jessica Pelto and Defense Attorney Frank Stupak on Thursday afternoon, the nine-woman-three-man jury deliberated for three and a half hours before reaching an unanimous verdict of not guilty at 8:25 p.m. Thursday.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,