Jurors Were Close To Convicting Rod Blagojevich

by
staphni
They were close. After three weeks of respectful but increasingly tense deliberations, 11 jurors were ready to convict Rod Blagojevich of what prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spree" that would have sent yet another former Illinois governor to prison. Not close enough. On vote after vote, the jury kept coming up one juror short — a lone holdout who wouldn't budge and would agree only that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. "The person just did not see the evidence that everyone else did," said juror Stephen Wlodek. The guilty verdict on the least serious of the 24 counts against him, and mistrial on all the rest, led Blagojevich to taunt prosecutors in the courthouse lobby. More than a year after federal prosecutors accused him of crimes that would make Abraham Lincoln "roll over in his grave," the disgraced politician bragged about essentially fighting them to a draw. "This fight is a lot bigger than just me and my family. This is a fight for the very freedoms that we as Americans enjoy," said Blagojevich, who promised to appeal his conviction on the single count. "The right to be able to be innocent, the right to be able to do your job and to not be lied about." The morning after the verdict, the former governor emerged from his home on Chicago's North Side wearing shorts, a polo shirt and gym shoes. He said he was back on dad duty and was taking his youngest daughter to camp. "We'll have more to say later," Blagojevich said. "Right now we've got to get Annie to camp." The former governor's brother and co-defendant, Robert Blagojevich, said the jury's conclusion showed he's been "an innocent target of the federal government." He could be retried on the four counts against him that ended in the mistrial. "I feel strong. I feel confident. I don't feel in any way deterred. I've done nothing wrong," he said. "I've got ultimate confidence in my acquittal." The outcome that left the Blagojevich brothers so pleased came as a disappointment to three jurors who s