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Blagojevich jurors end 1st day of deliberations

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[June 11, 2011]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Jurors at the corruption retrial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich began their deliberations Friday but went home for the weekend after meeting for just a few hours.

The jury will resume deliberations Tuesday on several charges, including that Blagojevich sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat and tried to shake down executives by threatening state decisions that would hurt their businesses.

During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors described Blagojevich as a schemer who lied to jurors even when confronted with FBI wiretap recordings that seemed to catch him in the act.

Blagojevich's attorney countered that the government showed only that he talks a lot.

"He didn't get a dime, a nickel, a penny ... nothing," defense attorney Aaron Goldstein shouted just feet from the jury box. Pointing at Blagojevich, Goldstein added that the trial "isn't about anything but nothing."

Lead prosecutor Reid Schar challenged that argument, telling jurors in his rebuttal -- the last word to jurors -- that Blagojevich went way beyond talk.

"He made decisions over and over, and took actions over and over," he said. "It's not that he talked a lot and it means nothing. It's that he talked a lot and it means everything."

After jurors at the first trial said prosecutors' case was too hard to follow, the prosecutors sharply streamlined it. They called about 15 witnesses this time, about half the number from last time. They also asked them fewer questions and rarely strayed onto topics not directly related to the charges.

[Associated Press; By MICHAEL TARM]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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