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Martha's fate rests with the jury
Panel weighing whether the style guru and her ex-broker lied about Stewart's ImClone sale.
March 4, 2004: 4:58 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A federal jury will continue deliberating Thursday whether Martha Stewart and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, lied about her sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in late 2001.

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A federal jury began deliberating whether Martha Stewart and her former stockbroker lied about her sale of ImClone stock. CNNfn's Mary Snow reports.

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The jurors got the obstruction of justice case after U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum instructed them for one hour and 40 minutes Wednesday morning.

Her comments were basic, telling the 12 jurors that they alone will decide the defendants' fate and praising them for performing their civic duty. She pointed out that guilt and innocence are personal and not collective. "You may find one defendant guilty without finding the other defendant guilty," she said.

"There is no magic formula by which you should evaluate testimony," the judge told the jurors after detailing instructions for each of the eight remaining counts in the case. "In your everyday affairs, you determine the reliability of statements. The same test should apply."

Shortly after deliberations began Wednesday afternoon, the jury made its first information request. The jury asked the judge for testimony from the government's star witness, Bacanovic's ex-assistant Douglas Faneuil, about his phone calls with his boss and Stewart on Dec. 27, 2001, the date of the ImClone sale.

Close to the end of the day the jury asked to see the worksheet where Bacanovic noted "60" next to ImClone's stock symbol, phone records from Stewart's assistant, and transcripts of some of the interviews Bacanovic had with the SEC.

Stewart and Bacanovic are charged with lying to investigators about the circumstances surrounding Stewart's stock sale that day, a day before regulators rejected the company's application for ImClone's experimental cancer drug -- news that sent its stock tumbling. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Last week, Judge Cedarbaum dismissed a securities fraud charge against the 62-year-old Stewart. The four remaining charges she faces, and the five faced by Bacanovic, each carry a sentence of up to five years.

Related Links
Opinion (U.S. v. Stewart and Bacanovic)
Superseding Indictment (U.S. v. Stewart and Bacanovic)
Court Ruling Dismissing 'Selective Prosecution' Defense
Stewart's Employment Agreement at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Stewart's defense lawyer belittled the government's case against his client, saying that if the home decor expert was involved in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, it was a "conspiracy of dunces."

Attorney Robert Morvillo pointed out five inconsistencies between Stewart's version of her sale of ImClone sale and the version given by Bacanovic. He said if the defendants were conspiring, they could not have done so in a "dumber fashion."

He also asked the jury not to hold the fact that Stewart did not take the stand during the trial against her. "You were probably looking forward to hearing from her," he said, and asked jurors not to let their disappointment get in the way of their judgment.

Morvillo closed with a play on Stewart's familiar catchphrase, saying, "let her return to her life improving the quality of life for all of us, and if you do that, it's a good thing."

Earlier this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Schachter, summing up the government's case against Stewart and her broker, tried to paint a picture of how the home decor expert and Bacanovic lied about her ImClone sale.

Martha Stewart
Peter Bacanovic
ImClone Systems Incorporated

"Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic had two options -- tell the truth or decline to be interviewed," Schachter said. "They chose an option the law does not allow -- to lie, conceal and cover up."

"She thought she would probably never get caught," Schachter told the jury. "They made serious mistakes and left behind a trail of evidence."

The prosecution says Stewart sold her ImClone stock only after Bacanovic told Faneuil to tip her off that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was trying to sell. Stewart and Bacanovic have told investigators they had an arrangement to sell once the stock fell to $60.

Bacanovic was broker to both Stewart and Waksal, who is serving a seven-year prison term after pleading guilty to securities fraud over his family's sale of the ImClone shares.  Top of page

-- from CNNfn's Allan Chernoff and staff and wire reports

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