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Blagojevich jurors seek closure at sentencing

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Some of the jurors from Rod Blagojevich's first corruption trial as well as his retrial attended Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

For months at a time, they sat in silence staring at Rod Blagojevich from the jury box. On Tuesday, they were in court as spectators. The judge reserved special seating for former jurors who wanted to see the case to its conclusion.

Their job as jurors is over but not their connection to the Blagojevich case.

"I'm just here for closure. We spent three months of our lives doing this," said Olga Duvvur, a juror at Blagojevich's first trial.

"I was here at the beginning. I just want to follow it right to the very end," said John McParland, a juror at Blagojevich's second trial.

At least a half dozen of the men and women who sat in judgment of Blagojevich during his two trials decided to be in court for his sentencing.

"What we've gotten is vindication from the judge that what we thought, the majority of us, was right," said James Matsumoto, first Blagojevich trial jury foreman.

Unlike the first trial, jurors in 'Blagojevich Part II' heard the former governor testify. On Tuesday, some said they see a slightly changed Rod Blagojevich.

"I'd say more somber, more serious, reserved. At the trial he seemed more upbeat, maybe hopeful. Today he was accepting that inevitably he will serve time," said Jessica Hubinek, who was on the jury during Blagojevich's second trial.

Connie Wilson was the jury forewoman in the second trial. She came to court Tuesday with a number in her head.

"Originally I thought 10 to 12. Now I'm wondering, after you hear some of the things, if it's going to be higher. I was surprised," Wilson said.

"I thought maybe under 10, 8 to 10. Now I'm thinking that's not going to be the case," said Hubinek.

Is there anything Blagojevich could say to soften their stance?

"I don't know exactly what he could say at this point. I know some of the things that should have been said a little earlier," said Hubinek. "Maybe admitting some wrongdoing on his part would be deserving of a little leniency but maintaining his position of complete innocence is probably detrimental."

All of the jurors said they feel for personally for Rod Blagojevich, his wife and daughters. They may have doubted his claims of innocence but not the devastation a long prison term will bring. It's clear the men and women who sat in judgment of Blagojevich take no joy in his sentencing.

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