updated 5/24/2006 7:23:16 AM ET 2006-05-24T11:23:16

Jurors in the federal fraud and conspiracy trial of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling finished a fourth day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict.

The eight-woman, four-man panel received the case last week and has deliberated for a total of about 24 hours. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake told attorneys the panel worked through lunch and wrapped up at 3:30 p.m. CDT, about 30 minutes earlier than usual.

The panel is slated to resume deliberations Wednesday. Jurors are deliberating Monday through Thursday.

Lay’s second trial on bank fraud charges stemming from his personal banking, tried before Lake without a jury, concluded on its third day Tuesday. The judge aims to announce his verdict after the conspiracy jury renders its decision in the Lay-Skilling trial.

The 16-week conspiracy case was the government’s premier trial to emerge from its probe of Enron’s spiral into bankruptcy proceedings in December 2001 in one of the most searing corporate scandals in U.S. history.

Skilling faces 28 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors and a maximum of 275 years in prison if convicted on all counts. Lay faces six counts of fraud and conspiracy with a combined maximum punishment of 45 years.

“We are feeling very positive,” Lay said at day’s end outside of court.

Both are accused of repeatedly lying when they told investors and employees Enron was vital when they knew accounting trickery hid losses and flailing ventures. The defendants deny any wrongdoing and blame negative publicity and lost market confidence for Enron’s failure.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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