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Jurors in Carona trial didn't believe star witness [UPDATED]

Carona2 Jurors who acquitted Michael S. Carona today of five of six felony charges said they listened to the government’s secretly recorded tapes over and over but didn’t believe the prosecution’s star witness.

Still, what swayed them most was Judge Andrew Guildford’s instruction that they must keep an eye on the calendar: Any of the 64 acts of corruption that prosecutors alleged had to have occurred within the last seven years -- the statute of limitations. The jury concluded the vast majority of them did not.

“As far as him being guilty of things outside of that, I don't know,” said one juror who identified himself only as Jim. “That's not our job, and that wasn't this case."

Some observers long believed the trial would come down to the testimony of Don Haidl.

The wealthy Newport Beach businessman and longtime Carona backer was the government's star witness, testifying that Carona solicited bribes, hocked the powers of political office and plotted furiously to enrich himself even before he was elected to run the second-largest sheriff's department in the state.

Carona's attorneys devoted most of their energy to chipping at Haidl's credibility, taking every opportunity during the trial to show that Haidl, a high school dropout who made millions in the car auction business, received a sweet plea deal when he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and that he could not be trusted.

“Do I think [Carona] was part of a lot of this stuff? Yes. But did the government prove it? No,” said juror Jerome Bell, 42, a truck driver from Anaheim. “His hand was in the cookie jar. He was just quick enough to wipe the crumbs off of his hands."

-- Mike Anton

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (4)

It is so very comforting to know that ALL the stupid jurors in California do not reside in Los Angeles County.

Another miscarriage of justice. That Corona is crooked as the day is long.

Every politician relies on his, or her, friends for campaign donations. It is common even for the CHP - just look at all of the bumper stickers showing it. What Corona was alleged to have done was a complete trump-up by the feds. They even "hired" a friend of Corona's to secretly record so-called admissions. How many times have your friends ranted on and you didn't interrupt them every time to correct their errors. This happens all of the time. Yet, the feds wanted to destroy Corona - and did so - using just this dirty, filthy, vile and vicious tactic. The worst part of this case is that so far the federal judges have allowed this vicious tactic to work. I think the case will be overturned on appeal. Corona used his friends to get elected and stay elected, true. But, all politicians do this. He was tough on crime and particularly gang crime. So how do we reward him?

Given the statute of limitations and Haidl's character, the verdict makes sense. I don't like the verdict or Carona, but it sounds as if the jurors paid attention and followed the law. I don't get why the huge international law firm Jones, Day agreed to defend Carona for free? I can think of a lot more deserving defendants who need legal help.


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