Jury deliberates all day in Eversole trial

March 29, 2011 7:03:08 AM PDT
A long day of deliberations in the trial of Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole. Jurors are trying to determine if Eversole traded political favors in exchange for gifts from a contractor.

There is little Jerry Eversole can do now. He showed up for court 30 minutes before jurors and like the rest of us simply waited on a closed door on the eighth floor to open.

"I feel fine. It's a big day for me," Eversole told us.

Eversole spent hours waiting in the cafeteria with his wife and friends. We didn't see much of his lawyers today. Nor much of prosecutors. They will be here quickly when a verdict is reached. Until then, Eversole is left to consider what comes next.

If he's found guilty on any of the counts, he faces federal prison.

"If Jerry Eversole gets convicted, he's going to prison at a minimum of four to five years," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

Eversole would not go to prison right away; federal convicts rarely do. It will take months to finish pre-sentencing work and there's also the possibility of appeals. But in the meantime, it's unclear if he could keep his job while all that is going on.

The County Attorney's Office certainly believes Federal Judge David Hittner could remove Eversole from office if found guilty. But as we all wait, that's still a big if.

This jury could agree with Hardin that there is too much reasonable doubt here and acquit the long-time commissioner. Eversole would be out of trouble in federal court, but not out of trouble completely.

The county attorney is looking at the case to see if he needs to be removed from office and the district attorney could take another look as well.

The jury asked two questions today: they asked for a list of the nearly 300 pieces of evidence and they asked for the legal definition of 'bribery.'

Jurors went home for the day shortly before 5pm and they'll be back at it Tuesday at 9:30am.

We're continuing to follow the case and will bring you the very latest on Eyewitness News and here on abc13.com.

Earlier Monday

Corrupt or wrongly accused? The fate of a long-time Harris County commissioner comes down to the decision made by a jury of his peers. Those jurors resumed deliberations Monday morning.

Commissioner Jerry Eversole arrived at court this morning for what could be decision day in his federal corruption trial. Eversole seemed confident and smiled as he walked into court holding his wife's hand.

"I feel fine. It's a big day for me," Eversole told us.

Eversole is accused of taking bribes of more than $100,000 in cash, gifts and travel from real estate developer Michael Surface and in exchange, helping Surface to win contracts with Harris County.

Most notably, prosecutors cited $17,000 Eversole received in landscaping, $30,000 in antique firearms and $63,000 to pay off his mortgage. Eversole is also charged with filing false income tax returns.

The government's argument is this is a three-year friendship between the men that crossed the line. Eversole's high-profile attorney, Rusty Hardin, rested without calling a single witness. Leaving court on Friday, Hardin maintained the government failed to provide evidence showing these were bribes rather than gifts or loans.

"They never proved what it was, one way or the other, so it leaves the jury to guess/wonder and our position is that's not how you decide a case," said Hardin.

Jurors took home copies of the indictment over the weekend. So far, jurors have spent about four hours deliberating this case, which went on for three weeks.

If convicted, the Harris County commissioner could face a maximum of 21 years in prison.

Surface faces his own trial this fall on allegations he bribed Eversole. Surface has pleaded not guilty.


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