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Jay Levine cleared in argument over Rahm Emanuel

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Jay Levine

Local TV reporter Jay Levine was found not guilty of misdemeanor assault Friday for a brief verbal tussle with conservative commentator William Kelly during an interview of Rahm Emanuel.

During a short hearing in the Cook County court at Belmont and Western, Judge Geary Kull noted that Levine didn't raise a fist in the incident, which was recorded and is available on YouTube.

Though Levine said he was going to "deck" Kelly, Kelly's behavior was "not indicative of an individual who reasonably feared Mr. Levine would strike him," the judge said.

"Clearly Mr. Kelly wasn't aware it was threat because he had to ask Mr. Levine if it was a threat," Kull said.

On the Web video, Kelly badgers Emanuel with questions and opinions while Levine and another local reporter tried to interview him.

Kelly testified in court Friday that he thought Levine's threat was legitimate.

"He said he was going to deck me and I believed him," Kelly said.

During cross examination, Levine's attorney Jennifer Bae pointed out Levine never touched Kelly.

"Rahm Emanuel grabbed his right arm and I believe that's why Jay Levine didn't punch me," Kelly said.

Self-styled radio host Kelly purchased airtime on WIND-AM (560) and had filed a misdemeanor assault complaint against Levine over the incident. Levine is CBS 2 Chicago's chief correspondent.

After the hearing, Levine declined to comment.

"We came here hoping for justice and sadly there was no justice to be found," Kelly said after the hearing. "I'll continue to do my job even if Jay Levine tries to stop me with threats and intimidation."