Still No Verdict
by: Pat Hernandez, March 29, 2011 7:03:00 pm
After three weeks of testimony, the jury has been trying to reach a unanimous decision on the guilt or innocence of longtime Pct-4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole. He's accused of trading political favors in exchange for over 100K dollars in cash gifts and trips from Mike Surface, a contractor and longtime friend.
Just before lunch yesterday, the panel told Judge David Hittner that it was deadlocked and submitted three specific questions for attorneys: Jurors wanted prosecutors to restate the conspiracy argument, to clarify the relationship between Eversole and Surface, and putting friendship aside, where do you draw the line to justify accepting things of value as an elected official with someone who does business with the county?
Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole and Defense attorney Rusty Hardin
Judge Hittner then allowed both sides 30-more minutes each to plead their cases one more time. Prosecutors again told jurors that Eversole and Surface engaged in a pattern of conduct of exchanging gifts and cash being exchanged for millions of dollars in county contracts. Defense attorney Rusty Hardin countered, "Do not convict his client on inference."
The panel then called it a day. Attorney Hardin said that the day could have ended with a hung jury.
"Well, that's obviously better than a conviction, but I've always been in hopes and belief that he didn't do anything wrong, and so I want him to be found not guilty. That's still what we hope happens."
Eversole was asked what was going through his mind.
"Usually this time of the year, I'm worried about who's gonna be playing for the Astros. This year, I hadn't had time to think about that."
Deliberations resume this morning. If convicted, Eversole faces up to 21 years in prison and 700-thousand dollars in fines.