Jurors in the fraud and conspiracy trial of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling deliberated for a fifth day Wednesday without reaching a verdict in the premier criminal case to emerge from the company’s collapse.
The panel has deliberated for about 31 hours over five days. Deliberations were to resume Thursday.
In a midday note to the judge, the panel asked for additional copies of a list of trial exhibits and asked whether it was possible to see testimony transcripts. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake said he would ask jurors to be more specific about the testimony.
“I can’t really answer that question without knowing exactly what they want,” Lake said.
Both defendants awaited the outcome away from the federal courthouse in Houston — Lay at his office about two blocks away, and Skilling in his legal team’s so-called “war room” in an office building across the street.
Lead Skilling attorney Daniel Petrocelli remained at the courthouse, while lead Lay lawyer Michael Ramsey said he and the ex-chairman’s other attorneys planned to wait there in shifts.
The eight-woman, four-man panel sent a note to Lake on Tuesday stating they don’t intend to deliberate Monday, Memorial Day. The jurors told the judge last week they would consider the case Monday through Thursday each week, the same schedule as the 16-week trial that started with jury selection Jan. 30.
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.
Both are accused of repeatedly lying to investors and employees about Enron’s health before its December 2001 collapse into bankruptcy proceedings, when they allegedly knew accounting tricks masked losses and failing ventures.
The defendants deny any wrongdoing and attribute Enron’s failure to bad publicity and lost market confidence.
Lay also is awaiting a verdict in a separate bank fraud case that was tried before Lake without a jury during the first three full days of deliberations in the conspiracy case.
Lake has said he will announce his verdict in the bank case after the conspiracy jury renders its decision. Lay faces one count of bank fraud and three counts of making false statements to banks regarding his use of personal loans to buy stock. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.