Many Blago jurors find sentence harsh but fair

December 7, 2011 3:27:17 PM PST
Some of the jurors from both of the Rod Blagojevich corruption trials were in the courtroom when his sentence was handed down Wednesday.

Many of the men and women who once sat in judgment of Blagojevich in the jury box feel the 14-year sentence was harsh and fair.

"It's a weight none of us took lightly. We all felt that very heavily," said Karin Wilson, a juror in the Blagojevich's second corruption trial.

Some former Blagojevich jurors say they were emotional as Rod Blagojevich made his impassioned plea for mercy.

"It was a really powerful moment for those of us who prayed for his family and thought about his family during these weeks," said Wilson.

"Particularly for me, if I'm going to make a decision that affects somebody's life, I certainly better be able to look him in the face afterwards and know I made the right decision," said Connie Wilson, the jury foreman in the second trial.

Their compassion approached its limit when Blagojevich gave a somber but, some jurors felt, couched acceptance of responsibility.

"He made a couple of comments that the jury decided I was guilty, never once did I hear him say, yes, I was guilty," said Amy Laures, an alternate juror in the second trial.

"I think it was disingenuous to say something like that. He should have just said, 'I committed some crimes and I am very sorry," said James Matsumoto, the jury foreman in the first trial.

"He took the position the whole time that he was innocent and didn't know what was going on. I think that for him to completely change that perspective is pretty late in the game. I think he did take responsibility like he said for his stupidity," said Jessica Hubinek, juror in the second Blagojevich trial.

The former jurors say they hope Blagojevich's 14-year-sentence sends a strong statement to others who betray the public trust.

"Obviously if we constantly keep at it somebody will get the message down the line. We don't want it this way anymore," said Connie Wilson.

Several of the jurors from the second Blagojevich trial have formed a tight bond. They get together socially and have even spoken about their experiences in a panel discussion at a suburban library.

The jurors ABC7 spoke with Wednesday say they are happy to put the Blagojevich case behind them. But as they left the courthouse they promised to continue the friendship formed in a jury box.


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