A jury has found a former local businessman not guilty on charges he choked one of his employees.

43-year-old Mike Bouffard of Saline had been charged in Livingston County Circuit Court with a single count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. But after less than two hours of deliberation, a jury on Tuesday found that the former owner of The Original Mikey’s Burgers & Fries in Howell not guilty.

Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says, "While we're disappointed in the verdict, we respect and understand the jury's decision."

The business closed immediately after the incident in July of last year involving a parking lot altercation with a 20-year-old employee who alleged Bouffard choked him. Bouffard, who did not testify at his trial, previously said he had yelled at the employee for not wearing the proper uniform and then restrained him when he tried to attack Bouffard. He also claimed the employee and a co-worker lied when they told investigators he had tried to choke the young man. (JK)