Friday, September 29, 2006

Again!? Vigil Trial Stunner: Alternate Juror Says Ex-Treasurer Is Innocent; The Jury & The Politicos Ponder, Plus: Radio Talker Bites The Dust 

Is the second Vigil jury setting up to deliver a bombshell like the first one? Could be. Moments after the defense team for the ex-treasurer rested its case without presenting even one witness--as it did in his first trial which ended in a mistrial--an alternate juror emerged from the federal courthouse in downtown Albuquerque and announced that she believes the feds have failed to prove their case and that Vigil should walk.

While only an alternate juror who will not deliberate Vigil's fate on extortion charges, she did sit through the nearly one month proceeding and heard all the evidence. Her statement sent a shock wave through the U.S. attorney's office, still reeling from the first trial in which a lone juror held out forcing the second round.

While this retrial played out, ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson aired hundreds of thousands of dollars of TV ads pounding her Dem opponent, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, for allegedly failing to go after Vigil when she had the chance.


What impact will the decision in the second trial have on the campaign, if any?

A mistrial would keep Republican blood boiling over Madrid who they would readily blame for the outcome because of maneuvering she conducted over state charges facing key witnesses. But how it will play with undecided voters is most key, and most of them are not Republicans. Do they care, or are they numbed by the year long legal wrangling?

Certainly GOP U.S. Attorney David Iglesias has as much as anyone riding on this highest of high-profile cases. Another mistrial, or a not guilty verdict, would leave him with a lot of explaining to do.

One other stunner from that alternate juror. She was asked about the undercover video tape showing Vigil accepting thousands in cash from an investment adviser who did business with the treasurer. That, said the alternate of the prosecutions key piece of evidence, was nothing more than a "set-up" by the FBI.

Told of the alternate's comments, Vigil defense attorney Sam Bregman broke into a wide smile. The rest of us had our jaws agape. Stay tuned.

While the verdict is still out on the he Vigil retrial, it is in on ABQ's experiment with a second talk radio station. KAGM 106.3 FM confirmed our mid-August report Thursday and announced that it will can the format today and switch to a Spanish music format.

The station's morning host, radio veteran Larry Ahrens, told me after nearly a year and a half on the air, but with ratings in the cellar (only a 0.8% share of the radio market) management decided that they couldn't make a go of it.

"Talk radio is an AM format. Making it go on FM in a market this size was always an iffy proposition," said NM talk radio pioneer Mike Santullo.

Ahrens, who spent 25 years hosting the morning show on talk giant 770 KKOB-AM radio before heading to the FM dial, said he thought the station could have found a niche if given more time, but it was not to be. He said he will pursue a PR venture, but did not rule out a future radio gig. Stay tuned, but only if you are looking for some Spanish music. The talk button has been put on mute.

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