Jury Says It's Deadlocked on Ex-Ala. Gov.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

By BOB JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Jurors in the corruption trial of former Gov. Don Siegelman and three others said they were deadlocked Thursday, but the judge told them to keep trying to reach a verdict.

On their sixth day of deliberations, jurors sent U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller a note saying they could not reach a unanimous verdict in the 34-count case against Siegelman, former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and two former Siegelman Cabinet members.

Siegelman's attorneys asked Fuller to declare a mistrial, but the judge declined. He gave jurors instructions designed to encourage them to reach agreement and told them to resume work Friday morning.

"This is an important case. The trial has been expensive in time, effort and emotional strain on both sides,"Fuller told jurors. He said it was not unusual for jury deliberations to last longer than five days in a case this complex.

Jurors have been going over the testimony of more than 75 witnesses during the trial, which is now in its eighth week.

Prosecutors claim government favors were traded for campaign donations and gifts while Siegelman was governor from 1999-2003 and lieutenant governor from 1995-1999.

A former Siegelman aide, a lobbyist and a toll bridge developer testified for the prosecution. The defense described those witnesses as"scam artists and liars"looking to avoid charges or to get lighter sentences.

Siegelman has said the charges were politically motivated and even ran for governor during his trial. He lost in the June 6 Democratic primary to Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley.

Also on trial are Siegelman's former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick, and his state transportation director, Mack Roberts. Charges against Siegelman and Hamrick include bribery, conspiracy and racketeering. Scrushy is charged with bribery and mail fraud and Roberts with mail fraud.

In addition to refusing to declare a mistrial, Fuller rejected defense requests to rule on their motions to dismiss some or all of the charges. Fuller has deferred ruling on those motions until after the jury returns verdicts, but Siegelman attorney G. Robert Blakey had argued that ruling now might pare down the indictment and"simplify the case"for jurors.

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