For the second time in two months former Governor Don Siegelman and former Healthsouth Chairman Richard Scrushy were both back in court proclaiming their innocence Wednesday. The two, along with two co-defendants, appeared at another arraignment in the government's public corruption case.
It was a family affair for the defendants in the case. Former Governor Don Siegelman arrived holding the hands of his daughter and his wife. Former Healthsouth chairman Richard Scrushy brought five of his nine children and also his wife. And even though former Siegelman Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick came with his wife but without his kids, they were still on his mind. "I was thinking about changing my plea this morning after we went through Christmas with a two year old and a four and a half month old I think I qualify for an insanity defense."
The government claims the three along with former Transportation Director Mack Roberts are connected in some way with allegations that Siegelman had a pattern of accepting cash and gifts for political favors. The charges included bribery, racketeering, conspiracy, and mail fraud. And all four defendants pleaded not guilty again like they did a couple of months ago. Don Siegelman says "I'm still not guilty. What more can I say. I mean how many times do they want me to say it. Not guilty once. Not guilty twice. They haven't changed the charges."
And, Siegelman's 20 year old daughter Dana had a few words to say about that. "I think God has a plan for my dad and I think whatever God's will - will be done and I know that my dad is innocent. I know he's done a lot for this state and I just pray that all of this gets over with soon."
And, so do the defendants. All four had to enter new pleas after two new charges were filed against Siegelman and Scrushy. Scrushy says "We're going to go right through this holiday and we're going to keep praising God for everything we learn through going through this persecution, and we're going to come out on the other end of it, and we'll be testifying and witnessing to other people going through similar kind of things for the rest of out lives."
Scrushy has filed papers for a separate trial from Don Siegelman and he also has another lawyer added to his defense team. Terry Butts, the attorney for former Chief Justice Roy Moore during his failed attempt to keep the ten commandments monument in the judicial building, is now among those representing Richard Scrushy.
No trial date has been set for the four defendants. Siegelman is anxious for a speedy trial so there will be a resolution to the case before the June gubernatorial primary.