The government rested its case today after the judge agreed to drop three of the 31 charges against Jeffery Skilling and a single count out of the seven against Kenneth Lay. Few details were provided on why the charges were dropped.
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The Houston Chronicle reports that the dropped charges against Skilling related to a pair of securities fraud counts and a charge of lying to auditors. The number of securities fraud charges facing Lay has declined by one. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake ordered that references to the dropped charges be removed from the superceding indictment presented to jurors when they begin their deliberations.
Since testimony began on February 1, the government presented 22 witnesses, including eight former executives who have pled guilty, one with an immunity deal, one who settled regulatory allegations and three claiming their concerns fell on deaf ears, according to the Associated Press.
A motion by the defense to acquit both defendants on a number of charges was rejected.
Court was dismissed around 10:40 a.m. and is in recess until Monday morning, allowing the defense time to organize their case. In addition to the two defendants, the defense is expected to present testimony from about one-quarter to one-half of the witnesses named on their list of some 100 potential witnesses. The defense’s initial witness list was more than twice that number. Both Lay and Skilling have entered not guilty pleas and face decades in prison if found guilty on all charges.