Jurors in the retrial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich began deliberating the ex-governor's fate Friday, the day after an emotional day of closing arguments.
The group’s five alternates were dismissed, and the jury's first task was to elect a foreman before beginning deliberations. The final jury consists of 11 women and one man.
Friday morning, the judge met briefly with attorneys to go over a few housekeeping issues, then gave final jury instructions to the jury.
Thursday, Zagel finished reading the jury instructions and finished going over the charges (PDF) with the jury, but said a few mistakes in the instructions had mistakes that needed to be corrected before the jury could begin.
Thursday afternoon, Blagojevich and his wife teared up as his defense attorney told jurors that Blagojevich was only throwing out ideas on running state business and choosing a replacement for then President-Elect Barack Obama. Attorneys for Blagojevich said he never broke a law.
In the defense’s closings , they returned to the “nothing” theme, that Blagojevich got nothing from all the talk and that all he is guilty of is liking to talk “a lot.” The defense also questioned the prosecution’s witnesses’ credibility, saying they were lying on the stand to protect immunity agreements and plea deals for themselves.
Blagojevich spoke to reporters after court for the first time since he took the witness stand two weeks ago.
“To the very end, the government prosecutor was twisting my words, and twisting the truth when it comes to some of those issues. But we feel relieved, Patti and I, that we had our chance, we literally did have our days in court, where I had a chance to be able to get up there and answer honestly every single question that I was asked and answer as fully as I was allowed to answer,” Blagojevich said.
In its closing arguments, the prosecution listed all the witnesses who testified against Blagojevich and said it would be impossible to believe they were all lying while Blagojevich was telling the truth. Prosecutors painted Blagojevich as a liar, went through the charges count-by-count and pointed to tapes and testimony that contradict what Blagojevich said on the stand.
In the first trial, which last slightly longer than this retrial, the jury deliberated for 15 days before reaching a verdict on only one count. Legal experts say juries typically take about one day of deliberations for every week of the trial, meaning a verdict could take a few weeks.
Also Friday, the defense filed a motion asking for a mistrial based on the prosecution's closing arguments. The motion argues the prosecution made several improper statements to the jury. They also filed a motion arguing some jury instructions from the prosecution were inappropriate and misleading.
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