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Juror: Rod Blagojevich proved he was guilty


The jury in Rod Blagojevich’s second trial was composed of 11 women and one man. They found Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 counts. | Antonio Perez~AP photos

Jury forewoman reads statement

Jurors speak to media (Part 2)

Jurors speak to media (Part 3)

Jurors speak to media (Part 4)

Updated: May 9, 2012 9:36AM

This time, there was no holdout juror.

It may have taken parts of 10 days to talk through the counts, but a federal jury of 11 women and one man on Monday overwhelmingly convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In the end, they found him guilty on 17 out of 20 counts, including fraud, extortion and bribery.

One juror who wanted to acquit the ex-governor said she couldn’t ignore the mountain of evidence facing him.

“I’d come in thinking, ‘OK, he’s not guilty,’ and then all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Gosh darn you, Rod! You did it again!’ I mean, he proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty,” said Maribel DeLeon, a mother of three.

The juror, who recently was laid off from a marketing and sales position at a manufacturing company, had often smiled during Blagojevich’s testimony.

“It was very difficult. I really tried to just find everything I could to make him not guilty, but I mean — it was — the proof was there.”

It was a stark contrast from a panel of jurors last year who could not reach a verdict on 23 out of 24 counts in the first trial, saying the case lacked a smoking gun.

In a news conference following their verdict, jurors in Blagojevich’s retrial said initially they were not unanimous on the charges that Blagojevich attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

But again and again, they returned to the evidence and said a guilty verdict was the only clear conclusion.

“We feel confident we have reached a fair and just verdict,” said Connie Wilson, the jury’s forewoman reading a statement at the beginning of the news conference. Wilson, a Naperville resident and a retired director of music and liturgy at a church, said her fellow jurors had worked very hard to go through all of the evidence and Illinoisans can be “exceptionally proud.”

“I think it sends a message,” Wilson said.

Jurors’ names were not disclosed but will be made public Tuesday morning.

Blagojevich apparently failed at swaying jurors with stories of his hardscrabble youth shining shoes and his backstabbing friends who took the stand to speak for the prosecution.

Many agreed Blagojevich was “likeable” and “human.” It didn’t matter, Juror 136 said — they still had to look at the evidence.

He was convicted of every count relating to the Senate seat as well as of shaking down the CEO of a children’s hospital and an Illinois racetrack executive.

The panel acquitted Blagojevich on one charge relating to an alleged shakedown of a roadway executive and deadlocked on another count linked to that alleged scheme. They also could not decide whether Blagojevich hit up Rahm Emanuel for campaign cash in exchange for giving a school in Emanuel’s congressional district a state grant.

One juror, number 140, called Blagojevich’s testimony “manipulative.”

“I would have rather heard just the facts,” the elementary school teacher said.

Another described the former politician as coming across as “personable” during parts of seven days on the stand.

“It made it hard to separate that from what we actually had to do as jurors,” said Juror 103, a bartender and self-described “weekend warrior” who pursues photography on the side.

Though she said the trial was not always like those seen on TV, Juror 103 added that Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar’s first stab at questioning Blagojevich was the most dramatic “Law & Order”-esque moment the jury experienced.

“Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?” asked Schar in his first question, which kicked off an hour of fiery back-and-forth between he and Blagojevich.

“That scared us all to death,” Juror 103 said. “It did not get dramatic until he came out and did that and we were all just like, ‘Oh my god.’”

The jury made a pact not to reveal how different members voted.

While jurors weren’t sold on Blagojevich’s testimony, Juror 103 said former Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk was the most believable witness because he had nothing to gain from testifying. Lon Monk was the least credible because “he had lied to so many people, he had lied to Rod many times prior to this and he was taking money, taking bribes,” DeLeon said.

Contributing: Abdon M. Pallasch, Frank Main, Mark Konkol, Lauren FitzPatrick, Ariel Cheung and Kim Janssen

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