Timeline: A Senator Faces a Federal Jury

Posted October 20, 2008 at 6:41pm

Sept. 25

Trial begins with a jury of nine black women, three black men, two white women, one white man and one Hispanic man. Four of these jurors are alternates who will be dismissed before the jury goes to deliberations. Prosecutors describe Stevens as a canny politician who knows how to operate outside the public spotlight; the defense describes him as an absentee homeowner who was taken advantage of by a trusted friend.

Sept. 26

Several individuals who worked on the renovations to Stevens’ home in Girdwood, Alaska, testify about the project for the prosecution, providing details about the interior and exterior work.

Sept. 29

Judge Emmet Sullivan rejects a motion by the defense to declare a mistrial or dismiss the case over allegations that federal prosecutors failed to disclose information obtained from a key witness, former VECO employee Rocky Williams.

Sept. 30

The prosecution’s star witness, former VECO executive Bill Allen, takes the stand for the first time, testifying about his friendship with Stevens and a series of transactions that included trading Allen’s new $44,000 Land Rover for Stevens’ 1964 1/2 Mustang convertible and $5,000.

Oct. 1

Allen’s testimony continues. He states that he never billed Stevens for the renovations on the Senator’s home and that Stevens’ friend Bob Persons told him the Senator was just “covering his ass” by making requests for bills.

Oct. 2

The judge refuses a motion by the defense to dismiss the case after the government handed over notes from an FBI interview with Allen that indicated Allen believed Stevens would have paid any bill he was given. The defense argues that this evidence would have dramatically changed its case.

Oct. 6

Stevens attorney Brendan Sullivan again asks the judge to dismiss the case, alleging that the government has shown a pattern of hiding evidence that could have been useful to the defense. Prosecutors argue that the motion is groundless.

Oct. 7

Allen completes his testimony. Judge Sullivan raises concern that Allen’s personal attorney, Bob Bundy, was coaching him during cross- examination. This allegation remains unconfirmed throughout the trial, and Sullivan ultimately acknowledges that he could have misinterpreted Bundy’s gestures.

Oct. 8

In an effort to show Stevens’ awareness of his personal finances and the progress of his home renovations, prosecutors show jurors e-mails, notes and documents in which the Senator and Persons discussed the details of the project and its costs. Later that day the judge refuses, for the third time, a motion to dismiss, but he berates the government for providing false evidence and strikes from the case any reference to the car swap.

Oct. 9

The prosecution’s final witness, former VECO employee Dave Anderson, testifies that he spent hundreds of hours on company time working on Stevens’ home renovations. The prosecution rests its case and Stevens’ attorneys launch his defense, with Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) serving as a character witness.

Oct. 10

Contractors unrelated to VECO who worked on Stevens’ home renovations testify that the Senator and his wife paid their bills promptly and in full. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell takes the stand as a character witness, describing the Senator’s reputation as “sterling.”

Oct. 14

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) testifies for the defense as a character witness, calling Stevens “totally honest, totally straightforward.” Stevens’ daughter Susan Covich testifies that Allen frequently used the house when the Stevenses were not there, making the place too “creepy” for her to stay.

Oct. 15

Persons denies telling Allen that Stevens was “covering his ass,” though he admits he knew Allen was trying to hide some renovation costs from the Senator.

Oct. 16

Persons testifies that his FBI interview was “like being mentally waterboarded.” Later that day Stevens’ wife, Catherine, takes the stand, testifying that she assumed workers were being paid by the carpentry company she employed for the renovation. Later additions made by Allen were inappropriate and not to her taste, she said. Sen. Stevens appears as a witness in his own defense, and denies that he ever intentionally filed a false disclosure report.

Oct. 17

During a testy cross-examination, Stevens denies the prosecution’s assertion that he requested bills only as a way of “covering [his] bottom.” Stevens replies, “My bottom wasn’t bare.” But he struggles to explain how renovations that he didn’t request and was never billed for continued to be performed at his home by workers he didn’t know.

Oct. 18

Stevens’ defense issues fifth motion for dismissal, arguing the government presented false evidence to the grand jury. Judge holds rare Saturday session to debate complex instructions to the jury.

Oct. 20

Stevens completes his testimony, claiming that it is not uncommon for him to keep in his home items that belong to other people, but that does not mean those items are gifts.