Questions remain for holdout Blago juror

August 19, 2010 4:30:55 AM PDT
The juror who prevented former governor Rod Blagojevich from being convicted on several of the most serious charges in his corruption trial has not surfaced since the verdict was returned.

As were all the jurors in the Blagojevich case, the holdout juror was known only by her number. She was number 106. The public has heard from many of the jurors about her. Thus far, she herself has not spoken. Because of that, even though some news organizations are naming her, ABC7 has chosen not to.

"She wanted that clear-cut sign, you know. If it was a murder trial, she'd want to see the video of the one person shooting the other person, smoking gun. She wanted that," said Erik Sarnello, Blagojevich juror.

She is a black woman in her 60s, according to testimony during jury selection. She is divorced and lives in suburban Willowbrook. The juror has a college degree. She retired in 1999 as director of a state public health department center. She is active with the Chicago Urban League and in some local politics and has donated to national candidates. Juror 106 watches national news, listens to public radio and liberal talk shows. She heard and read about the Blagojevich case but said she wouldn't be influenced by it.

"We were all strong personalities. That's what made it kind of good and bad," said juror Cynthia Parker of Gurnee, Ill.

Parker said the government's strongest corruption charge was that Blagojevich tried to sell President Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. His conviction was blocked, 11-1, by the holdout juror.

"I think we all were totally different people. It was a very diverse group. We got along well. I liked everyone on the jury," said Parker.

Juror John Grover can't say that about the woman who held out, Juror 106.

"She don't like me. I spoke my piece in there. I'll say that," said Grover.

Another member, Ralph Schindler, says he voted to convict on all 24 counts.

"Several of us offered to stay as long as it took to reach an agreement, and the consensus was that we weren't going to get there," said Schindler.

It would be up to a new jury in a retrial that defense lawyers said Tuesday would cost $25 million, figures now criticized.

"I don't know where Sam got that from. I don't know where the figure comes from," said Professor Ronald Smith, John Marshall Law School.

Smith says whatever the cost, prosecutors can justify it.

"This is what the government spends when it wants to send a message. Don't cross the line. Whether you're a governor or a bank president or some mailman who decides to take some mail home at night. They send a message, don't do it," said Prof. Smith.

The U.S. attorney released a statement Wednesday night saying that they don't maintain or provide the cost of a single case or prosecution.

Blagojevich's campaign fund began with $3 million and is now bone dry, drained by legal fees. During trial number two, his lawyers would be paid from public funds.


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