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Some jurors found Blago likable but not credible

Updated: October 28, 2011 12:39PM

This time, there was no holdout juror.

It may have taken parts of 10 days to reach a decision, but a federal court jury of 11 women and one man on Monday convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of 17 of 20 counts, including fraud, extortion and bribery.

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

Some jurors said they found Blagojevich “likable” and “human,” but his testimony was not believable and the evidence against him was too strong.

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 Juror 149, a mother of three.

The juror, who was recently 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,” she said.

Jurors’ names were not disclosed Monday but will be made public today.

In Blagojevich’s first trial last year, jurors last year could not reach a verdict on 23 of 24 counts, saying the case lacked a smoking gun.

In a news conference following Monday’s verdict, jurors said initially they were not unanimous on the charges that Blagojevich attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. But again and again they returned to the evidence and determined that a guilty verdict was the only clear conclusion.

The jury foreman, a Naperville resident and a retired director of music and liturgy at a church, said her fellow jurors had worked very hard on the case.

“We feel confident we have reached a fair and just verdict,” she said. “... I think it sends a message.”

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

Juror 136, like several jurors, found Blagojevich personable, but said that didn’t matter because they had to look at the evidence.

However, Juror 140 called Blagojevich’s testimony “manipulative.”

“I would have rather heard just the facts,” the elementary school teacher said.“I think our verdict shows that we did not believe (him).”

When asked if Blagojevich’s first trial and the media coverage surrounding it swayed them, Juror 149 laughed.

“That’s why we’re here,” she said. “Because we didn’t know anything about it.”

The look into Blagojevich’s time as governor was enough to scare the jury foreman off politics.

“I told my husband that if he was running for politics, he would probably have to find a new wife,” she said.

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