Enron Trial Moves Into Final Weeks

As the Enron trial moves into its final weeks founder Ken Lay takes the stand later today. Last week saw the end of former CEO Jeff Skilling's eight days of testimony. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice takes a look at the trial with former federal prosecutor and Houston attorney Chris Bebel.

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"All things considered Skilling held up very well."

Bebel says the lack of a paper trail in the case makes the job harder for prosecutors and gave Skilling the opportunity to make light of the government's evidence. However, Bebel says look for the prosecution to use the lack of documents to their advantage in their closing argument.

"Skillings failure or refusal to sign-off on documentation associated with transactions between LJM and Enron will be portrayed as evidence that Skilling knew these transactions were illegitimate and intentionally sought to hide his involvement with those transactions by keeping his name off the paper work."

Bebel says Skilling tried to make the most of stating he did nothing wrong, there were only a few bad apples at Enron and he had to rely on the work and word of others, some of whom have admitted wrong doing. Bebel says Ken Lay's legal team may be in an even better position to use that argument. Here's what he expects this week.

"Ken Lay is going to highlight his strongest areas on direct examination, try and cut through some of the weaker points rather quickly and say he doesn't remember, the witness is wrong, what ever it is, but not dwell on them. And, he's going to be in a good position to do that because he was not an executive for most of the period at issue. Instead he was on the board of directors, and then when he did become CEO he was overwhelmed with responsibilities, he relied on the advice of others, on numerous occasions. Many of those others have already pled guilty to felony charges; their credibility is in question. Mr. Lay is going to be in a good position to put forth some convincing testimony. The question as to how successful he will be hangs in the balance. It's going top be a moment of high drama."

Ken Lay will be the second witness called today and he's expected to stay on the stand into next week.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...