FORT EDWARD -- A Washington County jury took less than three hours to acquit a Hudson Falls man of two felony charges relating to an explosive device he was found carrying in July.
The jury only convicted Jason Babson, 30, of one misdemeanor count of possession of fireworks.
Jurors entered deliberations about 1:15 p.m. after attorneys for the prosecution and defense gave their closing statements. They returned with a verdict about 4 p.m.
"There were a few among us who simply believed that because the device was a bomb that he was guilty of the first-degree count," said juror Mike London of Greenwich.
But he said jurors quickly determined that the first-degree weapons charge was not warranted, and they began to focus on the lesser third-degree charge.
Ultimately, they decided that the prosecution had failed to prove that Babson intended to use the device or that he knowingly was carrying a bomb, convicting him only of the fireworks charge.
Defense attorney Joseph Brennan had claimed that his client was only guilty of possessing fireworks when he was arrested by Hudson Falls police on the morning of July 4.
Brennan said the device Babson made was constructed to only produce a loud bang to celebrate the day.
"You heard Jason Babson from the witness stand that if he ever had the capacity to make a bomb, he would not have made it," Brennan said during his summation. "This device was not made to cause injury or damage to anyone."
Babson faced two felony charges, one for first-degree weapons possession and another for third-degree weapons possession, in addition to the misdemeanor fireworks charge. A fourth charge, reckless in endangerment, was tossed out by Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan.
Brennan sought to discredit the testimony of a witness who said Babson told her he planned on blowing up a school with the device.
In his testimony, Babson said he told Shelby Mumblo that he had to "be at a school" later that day for a race.
Mumblo, Brennan said, misheard Babson.
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright told the jury that testimony from a State Police bomb squad member proved Babson had a dangerous device.
"A firework can be a bomb," Kortright said in his closing argument. "If you're sending out shrapnel, you can do damage to people."
State Police Sgt. Timothy Fischer testified on Wednesday that the device was similar to a hand grenade.
Kortright also pointed out that Babson planned on leaving the area the next day and was bound for Pennsylvania.
"Evidence shows he was going to set this off and be out of the area," Kortright said.