Video: Stewart juror speaks after verdict

updated 3/6/2004 5:28:48 PM ET 2004-03-06T22:28:48

Juror Chappell Hartridge spoke outside the courthouse after the jury voted to convict Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic on Friday.  In an exclusive interview, Dan Abrams got a chance to speak with Hartridge one-on-one. Read a transcript of Dan's interview:

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, 'THE ABRAMS REPORT': What was the most important piece of evidence in the case? 

CHAPPELL HARTRIDGE, JUROR IN STEWART CASE:  The first being the testimony of Martha‘s assistant Ann Armstrong, saying that Martha tried to delete a message.  That was a very strong message related to this case.  Probably the second piece of equal weight was the testimony of Ann‘s friend Mrs. Pasternak. She stated that Martha told her that Sam is trying to sell his stock.  I sold mine and that was probably the two biggest pieces of information we received.

ABRAMS:  And so as a result of that information it became clear to you that the story that Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic were telling, that they had had this preexisting order simply wasn‘t true?

HARTRIDGE:  That and a few other things.  Yes, but those are the two strongest pieces of testimony.

ABRAMS:  Are you convinced that Martha Stewart‘s account that she had a preexisting order in place with Peter Bacanovic was entirely false?

HARTRIDGE:  I don‘t know if I want to use the word entirely, but we don‘t think that that was the case. 

ABRAMS:  You think that it was just a lie concocted to cover it up? 

HARTRIDGE:  The jury felt that way. 

ABRAMS:  Were there any jurors who were reluctant to convict?  Was it ever to the point where you had to vote and it was 9-3, 8-4, 10-2? 

HARTRIDGE:  The jury, we worked in concert.  We discussed all the testimony.  We worked well as a team.  No one came in there with any preconceived ideas.

ABRAMS:  I guess the question was were there ever any holdouts?  Were there ever any people who were saying, yes, you know, I hear you, but I‘m not convinced yet and it took other jurors convincing those persons to come over to the other side? 

HARTRIDGE:  No.  There may have been a couple of times before they absolutely made their vote, they said “we just wanted to get some more testimony read to us again,” and we just wanted to be 100 percent sure before we took the vote.  But no one was really trying to hold out anything. 

ABRAMS:  Douglas Faneuil was considered the star witness in this case.  He was the assistant to Peter Bacanovic.  He‘s the one who says that he made the call to Martha Stewart and basically gave her this information that Sam Waksal, the chairman of ImClone, was selling his stock.  Did you believe all of Douglas Faneuil‘s testimony? 

HARTRIDGE:  I can only speak for myself --  We kept an open mind, knowing that he had a deal cut with the government, so we didn‘t really have the preconceived notion that he was definitely telling all the truth or he was lying with anything.  We listened to his testimony and we used other testimony in the case, other evidence in the case to help corroborate his story. 

ABRAMS:  What do you think of Martha Stewart as a person? 

HARTRIDGE:  I don‘t know Martha as a person.  And I‘m not going to make any judgment on her as a person. 

ABRAMS:  The reason I ask that was because there was testimony that came in, testimony in the case about comments that she had made that made her seem kind of mean, demeaning to people who worked for her.  Did that affect you at all? 

HARTRIDGE:  Not at all.  Not at all.

ABRAMS:  Wasn‘t even discussed in the jury room? 

HARTRIDGE:  No.  It had nothing to do with what the elements of this case was. 

ABRAMS:  No, I understand the elements.  I‘m just wondering if maybe it came up as human nature.  You‘re also humans in the jury room. 

HARTRIDGE:  No, that was not a factor.  It didn‘t come up throughout the deliberation. 

ABRAMS:  You had mentioned a couple of times in interviews—you held a press conference—I saw you quoted on The Associated Press talking about maybe how this is a vindication, in essence, for the little guy, that the little investor will maybe take some reassurance here by this kind of verdict.  Was there a sense in there that, Martha Stewart and Bacanovic were sort of the celebrity people who thought they could kind of get away with anything, and that maybe this kind of verdict will send a message? 

HARTRIDGE:  I‘ll say that probably that was in the back of the mind of a few of us.  But we did not let that affect us in our decision.  So it didn‘t matter who the defendants were in this case, whether it was Martha Stewart or John Doe.  We just listened to the evidence and made our decision based on that. 

ABRAMS:  Look, part of the testimony was about who Martha Stewart was, and about her celebrity and how famous she was, et cetera.  It must have come into even subconsciously your assessment of you know who she is, what kind of message this could send.  Did you think about that at all in the jury room? 

HARTRIDGE:  It probably was in the back of our minds.  But I want to make it clear that it had nothing to do with my decision or anybody else‘s decision in that room.  We just listened to the facts of the case and made our decision based on that.  So it didn‘t matter if it was Martha Stewart in the defendant chair or again, John Doe. 

ABRAMS:  I understand that you were the jurors of the facts, and the judge is now going to make the decision with regard to the sentence.  But if you were the judge in this case, would you want to see Martha Stewart serve time? 

HARTRIDGE:  That‘s a tough question to answer.  I‘m sure the judge is going to be impartial, she‘s just going to say, hey, this is a person that committed a crime, she got convicted, now I have to give out this sentence, whatever is appropriate for this crime. 

ABRAMS:  But is there any reluctance on your part to see Martha Stewart or Peter Bacanovic go to federal prison? 

HARTRIDGE:  As a human being, I feel sorry for anyone in the situation they‘re in now.  But maybe they should have thought about this before they did some of the things they did.  That‘s the best I can say. 

ABRAMS:  What was the worst thing that you think that Martha Stewart did in the context of this case? 

HARTRIDGE:  If she probably would have been straightforward with her answers when she had the meeting with the SEC she might not have gotten convicted.  She should have just said “I wasn‘t sure I was breaking a rule, I was on vacation, my mind was on other things, I didn‘t think straight,” then maybe it would have been different.  But she started to tell things, she concealed certain pieces of information, and she just carried it all the way through maybe thinking that she was untouchable. 

ABRAMS:  And that sense of her thinking she‘s untouchable, you think, was something that was important? 

HARTRIDGE:  Well, it was probably important for the indictment to come out.  But it wasn‘t important for us making our decision. 

ABRAMS:  You had mentioned in your press conference that you thought the defense attorneys may have actually hurt the case for Martha Stewart.  What did you mean by that? 

HARTRIDGE:  OK.  I think I probably didn‘t understand that question.  And I thought about that later on.  What I was pointing out was they called a defense witness, Mr. Gutman, Jeremiah Gutman I think his name was...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HARTRIDGE:  ... who was Doug Faneuil‘s first attorney when this whole thing started.  And this was a defense witness, but his testimony was very, very, very bad for Martha and Peter, because he corroborated Doug‘s story. 

ABRAMS:  I guess I had asked you before about the jurors, whether there was ever a split and you talked about how unified this jury was.  Let me phrase it a different way.  Was it ever close for Martha Stewart?  Did Martha—the minute that you all got back there—and I‘m not saying that you didn‘t evaluate all the evidence.  But I‘m saying was there ever a point in the deliberations where if someone were watching you deliberate, they would have said, wow, things look pretty good for Martha Stewart? 

HARTRIDGE:  I don‘t think so.  I‘m going to keep saying I think we were straightforward.  We just listened to the evidence and the testimonies and we made the decision we thought was right. 

ABRAMS:  Final question.  If you could speak to Martha Stewart right now, and if she was listening, what would you say to her? 

HARTRIDGE:  If she just would have told the truth during her interview with the SEC she probably wouldn‘t be in the situation she‘s in now. 

ABRAMS:  Chappell Hartridge, a juror in the Martha Stewart case, thank you so much for taking the time and coming on MSNBC.  We appreciate it. 

HARTRIDGE:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you. 

'The Abrams Report' airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET.

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