Members of the jury in the trial of former Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, who had been together for four months, agreed to talk with the media about their deliberations on Thursday. They all said they didn't buy Lay's and Skilling's testimony nor the evidence against them.
"We went over all of the evidence, and we went through all of the possibilities," said jury forewoman Deborah Smith. "We didn't know what the verdict would be until this morning," she said Thursday. Smith, who said she worked in human resources for a "large oil services company," said "we didn't think we had a target of reaching a verdict today. We were prepared to stay here as long as it took. We wanted to have the right verdict... We wanted it to be one that all of the jurors unanimously agreed about."
"No particular piece of evidence" swayed the panel. "We listened and considered every witness," said Smith. "Everybody's name came up at least once. Some we gave more credibility to, some we didn't give any. But we considered every one."
Juror Freddy Delgado, an elementary school principal in Houston, said Ben Glisan Jr.'s testimony against his former bosses was some of the "best." Glisan, Enron's former treasurer, declined to make a deal with the government, and he was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud. Glisan, a copious note taker, testified that Skilling and Lay were aware of some of the deception at Enron, and he said Skilling had approved Enron's notorious special purpose entities.
"When we were in doubt, we always went to those boxes of evidence...and looked at the defense exhibits and the prosecution's," said Delgado. "It was there in black and white, and it doesn't lie." Delgado also cited the testimony by other former executives, many of whom had taken plea deals with the government in exchange for their cooperation. "Even if the government twisted their arms, you can not get everyone to say the same thing."
Asked about a defense argument that Enron actually collapsed because of short sellers and "inaccurate" articles in The Wall Street Journal, juror Don Martin said, "I think The Wall Street Journal thing was not that critical in anything." He acknowledged it could have played a role in the company's bankruptcy, but "as far as we were concerned with this case...it didn't have that much bearing."
Juror Doug Baggett, who works in Shell Oil Co.'s legal department, said, "there were red flags everywhere" at Enron by late 1999. Internal company surveys, the e-mail sent to Lay citing problems by former Enron executive Sherron Watkins and Glisan's testimony that he had warned Lay of a liquidity crisis in the fall of 2001 were all bad news for the defense, he said. But Baggett also admitted that the defense put on a good show.
"I think we all felt like ping-pong balls," he said. He recalled how he would go home one evening believing the defense theories and then the next evening he was inclined to believe the prosecution.
Juror Carolyn Kuchera, a payroll manager, recounted how, after listening to testimony all day, she went home and had to take care of her work late into the night. For her, it was about Lay and Skilling not taking responsibility.
"We were responsible," said Kuchera. "We were always accountable. We had to find a way to circle back and tie up loose ends. And I think those employees were entitled to the same thing."
Juror Kathy Harrison, an elementary school teacher in Houston, agreed. She said she hoped other companies' executives now realize "those in charge have responsibility. There's too much hurt here."
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