May 25, 2006

Lay turns to God and family after guilty verdict

By Dan Whitcomb

HOUSTON (Reuters) - When the guilty verdicts came down,
former Enron chief Ken Lay turned to God and family.

Lay, the son of a preacher who has long maintained his
innocence to fraud and conspiracy charges in the energy giant's
collapse, was convicted on Thursday along with former Enron CEO
Jeffrey Skilling of concealing the energy' giant's crumbling
finances as it spiraled toward bankruptcy in 2001.

Before the jury arrived in the courtroom, the man once
hailed by Wall Street as a business visionary shook hands with
Skilling when the former Enron executive came into the chamber.

Lay then bowed his head, eyes closed, and appeared to pray
as the eight-woman, four-man jury entered the courtroom to
deliver the verdicts that could send him to prison for the rest
of his life.

Lay, 64, slumped and shook his head, his sobbing wife Linda
clutching his arm tightly, as U.S. District Judge Sim Lake read
off the jury's decision.

Family members of both men wept throughout the rest of the
hearing as Lake set sentencing for the week of September 11.

Skilling left the courtroom quickly after the verdicts were
read but Lay, told by the judge that he could not leave the
building until he had surrendered his passport, remained in
court, surrounded by members of his family.

"God's got another plan right now," Lay could be heard
telling each of his five children and other family members.

About an hour after the verdict, Lay, 64, gathered his
group of supporters in a corner of the nearly empty courtroom
to hold hands in a circle and pray, lead by a pastor from the
Baptist church he has long attended.

"We'll all come through this stronger and more reliant on
God," Lay told his supporters. "God will answer prayers."

Lay then took a phone call from another family member who
was trying to retrieve his passport, explaining how to open the
apparently stuck cabinet where it was kept and urging patience.

Lay left the courtroom for lunch without speaking to

"He's completely surprised by the verdict and not prepared
to comment today," his spokeswoman, Kelly Kimberly, said.