UPDATE: Morgan and Blythe guilty in ballot fraud case - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Morgan and Blythe guilty in ballot fraud case

Posted: Updated:
Owen "Butch" Morgan/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department Owen "Butch" Morgan/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department
Dustin Blythe/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Dept. Dustin Blythe/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Dept.

Butch Morgan and Dustin Blythe were found guilty on all counts in their ballot fraud trial Thursday night.  The verdict came it just after 8:00 pm after less than three hours of deliberation by the jury.

Butch Morgan was the final witness that the defense questioned in Thursday's trial. Morgan denied asking Pamela Brunette, Beverly Shelton, and Dustin Blythe to forge signatures on the 2008 presidential election petitions. He also says he did not organize meetings to discuss doing so.

Earlier this week, Lucas Burkett testified that Morgan called a meeting at Democratic Headquarters on Monday January 21, 2008 to discuss the need for more signatures. Morgan testified today that the Democratic Headquarters were closed that day for Martin Luther King day and he was participating in the city's festivities.

Morgan says he did not know either Shelton or Brunette were guilty until they pleaded guilty in their own trials.

The defense rested before noon and the state brought back Shelton and Brunette as rebuttal witnesses. Both women explained the meetings that were held after they were charged along with Blythe and Morgan. In those meetings they say they were trying to figure out strategies to dispute the charges. The state presented a document with 22 points on it that the four put together during these meetings. Both women say Morgan had a copy and contributed in making the strategies. Earlier, Morgan said he had never seen the document until it was presented in the case this week.

The prosecution had three major witnesses in this case. Lucas Burkett who has been referred to as the whistle blower in this trial and Pamela Brunette and Beverly Shelton who have already pleaded guilty for their part in this crime.

"If we just had Lucas, it's possible we would have gotten a conviction. I thought we had a pretty good case with him. Once the other two pleaded guilty, I thought we had an excellent case. I think that's what really put it over the top," says prosecutor Stan Levco.

He says that although the criminal acts were performed five years ago, it's important to uphold the integrity of the electoral system and a guilty plea did just that.

Morgan had nothing to say after the verdict was reached and Blythe was nowhere to be found, but his attorney also had no comment.

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