Defense rests in Eversole corruption trial

March 23, 2011 6:36:50 PM PDT
We're reaching a conclusion in the corruption trial of Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole as the defense makes a surprise move -- resting without even putting a witness on the stand.

The indictments were a result of a 13 Undercover investigation -- years of investigating the work habits of Commissioner Eversole.

A lot of people expected to be at the courtroom for another couple of weeks as the defense put on its case to prove Eversole didn't take these bribes, but clearly they think the government hasn't done its job.

The government had to get inside Eversole's head to prove that he intended to take these gifts as a bribe or a gratuity for a vote he'd taken in the past. And on Wednesday, Eversole decided the government hadn't done it.

It is, Eversole agrees, a gutsy move, but one he signed off on.

"I feel great, Ted. I feel great," he told us.

His attorney Rusty Hardin told us in their view the government simply never proved their case.

"I've never done this. That's a measure of two things. One is how much I hope I'm right and haven't messed up and the other is how certain I am they didn't prove their case," Hardin said.

Eversole never really disputed the long list of things he received from developer Mike Surface. And government records show Eversole took dozens of votes on projects that helped Surface's companies.

The problem on the first day and the last is proving the link between the two.

With the jury outside the courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner zeroed in on just that asking prosecutors, "How do you prove intent?"

"Intent is shown in (Eversole's) repeated acceptance of things of value and the failure to report it," Prosecutor John Pearson answered. "That shows the defendant knew what he was doing was wrong ... That's not the way legitimate public officials act."

Eversole disagrees and without ever taking the stand or having someone take it for him, Eversole plans to walk out a free man.

"The defense has to decide are we going to prove him innocent by putting him up there, which is basically what you're trying to do, or really put the government to the burden of proof and really make them prove beyond a reasonable doubt," KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said.

Jurors are expected to return to the courtroom at 9:30am Friday for some very key closing arguments in this case and will likely get the case to deliberate by Friday afternoon.

If the gamble doesn't work out for Eversole, he's facing years in a federal prison.