WASHINGTON -- To hear jurors tell it, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was his own worst witness during his corruption trial.
Two jurors -- one of whom posted a Web log of her jury duty experience -- say Stevens undermined his own defense by verbally jousting with Justice Department prosecutors and denying that just because he was given something, that didn't make it a gift.
"It was kind of weird," said Colleen Walsh, one of the jurors who found Stevens guilty on seven felony counts. "Throughout the case, he was kinda quiet and you know, kinda grandfatherly, but when he was up on stage, he was like a lion, and he was kind of demeaning to the lawyer, so it didn't help his case that much," she told The Associated Press in an interview.
Walsh, 32, and Brian Kirst, 25, an alternate who sat through the trial but did not join the deliberations, said Stevens' combative performance hurt him with the jury.
Kirst described the Justice Department's evidence as "hard-core," difficult to refute. Stevens' stories "just didn't add up," Kirst told the AP.
"The whole thing was just a mess. It was like, 'You're not helping, so why are you up here?' " Kirst said. "It was kinda interesting to see him shoot himself in the foot."
The jury convicted Stevens, the Senate's longest serving Republican, on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial documents to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts and home renovations from millionaire businessman Bill Allen. Stevens, who won't be sentenced until early 2009, has said he will appeal.
The jury deliberations were filled with controversy from the start. Jurors complained of stress and violent outbursts from one of their members during deliberations. They asked for her to be replaced, but the judge refused.
Walsh joined the deliberations after a juror claimed her father had died, left for the West Coast and did not return phone calls from the judge. Walsh said the tension was obvious.
One of the jurors asked everyone "to keep their voices down, let everyone else have their say and no swearing and stuff like that," she said. "Basically, act like adults. I was like, 'What the heck happened last week?' "
The judge later discovered that the juror who disappeared, Marian Hinnant, 52, flew to California for the Breeders' Cup, not to her father's funeral.
Kirst and Walsh said most of the jurors decided not to talk to the media about their time in the courthouse. Walsh, however has started a blog about the trial, juror11.blogspot.com because of all the questions she was getting from her family and friends about the case.