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Jurors Were Deadlocked 11-1, Leaning Toward Conviction

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    NEWSLETTERS

    James Matsumoto says his colleagues deciding the fate of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother were deliberate in their discussions and maintained professionalism.

    The jury foreman in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial says he knew from the outset that the jury would have trouble reaching a unanimous agreement.

    James Matsumoto called the two weeks of deliberations "frustrating" and "exhausting."

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    The 66-year-old former videotape librarian for Chicago public television station WTTW 11 said he would have found both the former governor and his brother, Tennessee businessman Robert Blagojevich, guilty on all counts. 

    Matsumoto, a former Vietnam veteran who served with the United States Marine Corps., said he felt the government proved its case, but added that it would have been helpful if the act of trying to sell Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat had been completed. 

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    On that count, juror Erik Sarnello, of Itasca, Ill., said the panel of 12 was deadlocked 11-1 in favor of a conviction.

    He said one woman on the panel "just didn't see what we all saw." The 21-year-old Sarnello said the counts involving the Senate seat were "the most obvious."

    Other jurors tried to persuade the holdout to reconsider, but "at a certain point, there was no changing," he said.

    That so many jurors were convinced of Blagojevich's guilt bodes well for prosecutors, said Joel Levin, a former federal prosecutor
    in Chicago who won a conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges.

    "At the end of the day it signals very strongly they will get a conviction next time," Levin said. "It sounds like the case was
    lost in jury selection."

    With respect to the jury's note to the court last week, where they indicated they couldn't reach a decision on a number of counts, Matsumoto said he was deliberately coy.

    "I was trying to be circumspect because I didn't know how much information to divulge, so we were trying to decide, 'Well, what do we tell?'  Because we knew that as soon as I wrote the inquiry, that the judge would get it and convene the court," he said.

    He said he wasn't upset that Rod Blagojevich ultimately didn't take the stand in his own defense.

    Jurors included:

    Jacklyn Ferino, Crestwood
    Melissa Barrett, Waukegan
    Jo Ann Chiakulas, Willow Brook
    Olga Duvvuri, Oak Park
    Ashlee Moore, Schaumburg
    Stephen Wlodek, Bartlett
    Cynthia Parker, Gurnee
    Erik Sarnello, Itasca
    John Grover, Joliet
    James Matsumoto, Chicago **Jury Foreman
    Ralph Schindler, Arlington Heights
    Jesse Blue, Matteson