Jury: Resident ‘not guilty’ of assault

ESCANABA – An Escanaba man accused of felonious assault was found not guilty by a jury that reached its verdict in less than an hour Tuesday in Delta County Circuit Court.

Sean Michael Heslip, 24, was being tried on a four-year felony count of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly threatening a female with a knife last summer in Escanaba Township.

Heslip’s trial was scheduled for two days but concluded after one day shortly after 4 p.m. when the three-woman, 10-man jury found him not guilty of the crime.

Earlier in the day, witnesses for the prosecution and the defense took the stand. Those presenting testimony included the defendant, his parents, his ex-girlfriend, two state troopers, and the victim.

Following testimony, closing statements were given by Assistant Prosecutor Philip Strom and Heslip’s attorney John Bergman.

According to witness testimony, Heslip’s ex-girlfriend and the victim, who are friends, had arrived at the defendant’s home on the night of July 19 when he threatened the victim with a knife.

Strom said the victim was “scared to death.” Heslip denied having a knife.

Strom told the jury that the verdict comes down to believing the two girls or the defendant.

Bergman reminded the jurors they must decide if a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt. The victim did not give police a written statement on the incident until Heslip and his girlfriend were breaking up in August, the attorney added.

“There was a confliction between what the girls were saying and what actually happened,” Bergman told the jury.

Heslip was arrested on Sept. 6 and released from jail a few days later after posting a $1,000 cash bond, according to court records.