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First guilty verdict against Blagojevich the toughest for Hyde Park juror

MayMoody talks about her experience as juror trial for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Tuesday June 28 2011 | Brian Jackson~Chicago

Maya Moody talks about her experience as a juror on the trial for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: June 28, 2011 7:44PM

Juror Maya Moody would have an interesting reaction if she ever bumped into Rod Blagojevich on the street.

“I almost feel like I’d want to apologize to him,” Moody, a 41-year-old photographer from Hyde Park, said Tuesday. “But it’s not my fault, so then why do I have those feelings?”

And though Moody’s conscience is clear, sending someone to prison can be tough on the average citizen.

“For me, that first guilty was really hard ... I stressed about it, because as soon as you get that first guilty verdict you know he’s spending time and it’s affecting his family and the rest of his life.”

“I do feel for him. I really do. I wish it didn’t have to turn out the way it did,” she said. “I’m fairly compassionate, and I try to just take you at your word.... So it was like, I wanted to believe in him, but because of the specific instructions and applying that to the law, we had to come to the conclusions we came to.”

Moody, who sat close to Blagojevich and regularly made eye contact with him, didn’t sense malicious intent in the former governor’s misdeeds — and even found him a “personable guy.”

“Sometimes I think he was just surrounded by people who just didn’t have the heart to speak the truth to him. It’s either that or ... that’s just how the political machine in Illinois is, and he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. But either way it goes, ... when you look at the law ... you know, it was all illegal.”

And though Moody believes Blagojevich’s testimony, and a lack of government recordings, worked in his favor on the counts on which he was found innocent, his affable banter could not overshadow the evidence.

“He seemed almost like a genuine person to me, but you know, behavior speaks otherwise,” she said.

Blagojevich’s foul-mouth recordings evoked some comments, but jurors were able to filter out the cussing and focus on facts, she said.

“So he used the F word here and there ... I can’t say it really bothered me all that much,” she said.

“We didn’t focus on that as if it were evidence. There might have been comments made before deliberations about that, but once we got to deliberations we focused on the evidence and his actions, not the curse words.”

The sole male juror “was not vocal at all, he was very quiet, he did talk here and there, but it was definitely the women who were more vocal,” she said. “Every so often (the jury foreman) would specifically speak to him and say ‘What are your thoughts on this? We’ve heard from everyone else, but what do you think?’”

During downtime, some jurors talked about dealing with their teenage children, played card games, read books and magazines, fiddled with electronic devices and sang “Happy Birthday” about 20 times into cell phones to friends and family on the other end.

Food was also in abundance. Large orders from Lou Malnati’s, Panera Bread and Corner Bakery kept carb consumption high.

“I’ve probably gained 10 pounds,” Moody said. “I just look forward to getting back to my regular routine.”

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