04/16/1998 AT 12:00 AM EDT
John C. Davis, 31, accused of breaking a Continental Airlines ticket agent's neck in a bout of air rage, was acquitted of assault Tuesday in a case that focused attention on rising tempers among the nation's air travelers, reports NBC News. Davis, who in 1999 was en route from Newark to Disney World with his family, claimed that he acted in self-defense and only after the agent (who had run out of boarding passes) shoved his wife as she ran after their 18-month-old daughter as the little girl headed toward the plane. Davis had faced up to 10 years in prison. The airline agent, Angelo Sottile, said in court that he was in a coma for five days as a result of the incident and that he has lost 80 percent of his neck mobility. "I'm just glad it's over," Davis, who burst into tears, said at a press conference after the verdict was announced. "During the course of the trial, our faith in the system was beginning to waver. Those 12 people restored it."