A federal jury began deliberations on Thursday in the government corruption trial of former Governor Don Siegelman.
The jurors deliberated for about four hours before recessing until Friday morning. The deliberations began after 32 days of testimony and arguments in what Siegelman's defense lawyer called - quote -- "the most important criminal case in Alabama history." Siegelman and former HealthSouth C-E-O Richard Scrushy, along with former chief of staff Paul Hamrick and former state transportation director Mack Roberts, are accused of taking part in schemes where favorable business deals were exchanged for lavish gifts and hefty campaign donations.
Earlier, lawyers for Scrushy told jurors that federal prosecutors should never have included him in the case. Scrushy is accused of arranging for 500-thousand dollars in campaign donations to Siegelman's 1999 lottery campaign for a position on a hospital regulatory board. The defense contends there was no such agreement.
Tuskegee attorney Fred Gray said the case against Scrushy is -- quote -- "utterly ridiculous." The closing arguments for Scrushy came a day after jurors were urged to acquit the other defendants.