Former Illinois Governor Blagojevich takes witness stand

Reuters News
Posted: May 26, 2011 11:58 AM
Former Illinois Governor Blagojevich takes witness stand

By Janan Hanna

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich took the stand in his own defense Thursday morning in his corruption re-trial.

"I'm here to tell the truth," Blagojevich said. He smiled at jurors as he sat down in the witness box.

Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein began Blagojevich's testimony by having him talk about his early childhood and dreams of playing baseball.

Blagojevich's first trial last year ended in a jury deadlock and he was convicted on only one count of lying to the FBI.

Attorneys began their defense on Wednesday of the two-term governor charged with trying to leverage the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama for personal gain. The first defense witnesses Wednesday were Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Blagojevich did not take the witness stand in his first trial.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune)

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