Christopher Duplain faced up to 22 years in prison if convicted of trying to kill two sheriff's deputies.
But after a jury came to a decision late Wednesday night, the former Kash n' Karry stock clerk could get off with time already served.
The jury convicted Duplain _ who spent 20 months in the county jail awaiting trial _ on seven charges, including felony criminal mischief, reckless driving and resisting arrest without violence. They acquitted him on the two counts of attempted first-degree murder on a law enforcement officer and two aggravated assault charges.
All of the charges stemmed from an incident on March 7, 1996, when Duplain, enraged that his wife was having an affair with Gary Logan, smashed two of Logan's vehicles and then tried to run down two deputies.
"We're very happy," said Duplain's father, George, who sat through the two-day trial and paced the courthouse foyer as the jury deliberated for seven hours.
"He never really deserved the more serious charges."
According to sheriff's reports the incident occurred as follows:
Shortly after 8 a.m., Duplain, now 30, argued with Logan and Logan's wife in the Food Lion parking lot at Northcliffe and Mariner boulevards in Spring Hill. Duplain left briefly and returned to smash the headlights on the Pepsi truck that Logan was driving.
Logan hopped into his wife's 1988 Chevrolet Beretta and the couple drove away. Duplain followed in his 1986 Honda Civic.
He crashed into the rear of the Logans' car as they left the parking lot. Duplain rammed their car at least three more times before the Logans stopped at the Food Lion at U.S. 19 and Northcliffe and called 911.
Duplain arrived soon after and emerged wielding a baseball bat, which he used to smash the windows and lights on the Logans' car. He then reached inside the car and put it in reverse, sending it crashing into a tree.
Later, a deputy found Duplain at the Pepsi offices east of Brooksville, where Logan worked. Duplain drove by, spotted the deputy and smashed into a trash bin. With the deputy in pursuit, Duplain drove to his home, went inside and then ran out the back door and drove away in a yellow pickup truck.
According to reports, on his way out he tried to run over Detective Craig Baxley and then Deputy John Rolph. Riding in his pickup, Duplain chased Rolph, who was on foot, into the woods.
When Duplain hit a tree and got stuck in the sand, the deputies smashed the windows on the pickup truck and arrested him.
"We never denied many of the charges," said Victor Martinez, Duplain's attorney. "We were arguing that he never hurt anyone and wasn't trying to kill anybody."
The six-woman jury, which asked the judge for guidance during the deliberations, seemed to agree. It lowered two aggravated battery charges to battery, and acquitted Duplain on the four most serious charges.
Judge William Law allowed Duplain to go home with his parents, who live in Citrus County, as long as he doesn't have contact with his ex-wife or any of the victims before his sentencing Dec. 11. He cannot enter Hernando County except for court-ordered meetings and to travel to Hillsborough County to see his attorney.
Martinez said he was confident Law would sentence Duplain to the time he already served.
"We're just glad to be taking him home," George Duplain said. "It's been a long wait."
_ Information from Times files was used in this report.