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Culture

Martha Stewart case gets Web verdict

Net users crowd fan sites and message boards after the decor icon is found guilty of charges including obstruction of justice. Some applaud the case's outcome; others call it a "SAD day in history."

Minutes after a jury found Martha Stewart guilty of hampering a stock fraud investigation, Web surfers rushed to the Internet with their own diverse verdicts on the celebrity trial.

Message boards, news publications and fan sites were flooded with responses and reactions to the lifestyle maven's conviction Friday. A jury in New York found Stewart guilty of four charges related to her sale of 4,000 shares of ImClone stock, ranging from obstruction of justice to conspiracy.

Stewart, formerly CEO of her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was accused of lying about why she sold her ImClone shares shortly before the biotechnology company lost government approval of its cancer drug. Former ImClone CEO Samuel Waksal was a friend of Stewart's and is now serving time in prison.

Shortly after the verdict was released, at about noon Pacific time, Stewart's personal Web site posted a statement.

"I am obviously distressed by the jury's verdict, but I continue to take comfort in knowing that I have the confidence and enduring support of my family and friends," Stewart's statement read. "I will appeal the verdict and continue to fight to clear my name. I believe in the fairness of the judicial system and remain confident that I will ultimately prevail."

Major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CNN all ran banner headlines on the verdict, with some including fuzzy photos of Stewart leaving the courthouse.

Fan sites such as SaveMartha.com were slow to load after the verdict was announced. Areas on MarthaTalks.com were also either sluggish or inaccessible, often a sign of heavy traffic.

Reaction on investor message boards spanned a spectrum that ranged from foaming rage to pleads of innocence.

"SAD day in American history," read one posting on Yahoo Finance. "After all this woman has done for American homes!!"

Others were not so sympathetic.

"Commit the crime, do the time," wrote another Yahoo poster.

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers helped take Martha Stewart Living public in 1999. Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, the venture capitalist behind Sun Microsystems, Netscape and Amazon.com, held a seat on Martha Stewart Living's board at the time of the IPO but has since left.