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A Juneau jury late this afternoon cleared nationally syndicated talk-show host Tom Leykis of the claims made against him by local woman Karen Carpenter, who said comments about her on his show caused her severe emotional distress and violated her privacy.
But the jury, which rendered its decision at 4:30 p.m. in Juneau Superior Court after deliberating for 1 1/2 days, did find the show's Los Angeles-area production company Westwood One at fault for destroying or concealing a tape of the disputed July 24, 1998, broadcast that was wanted as evidence.
The jury is scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. Thursday to deliberate on punitive damages for that claim, which is called spoliation of evidence.
The jury awarded Carpenter no money for emotional loss - she had asked for nearly $100,000 - and just $5,042 of the claimed $16,500 for economic losses related to lost income and medical expenses.
Leykis was smiling after the verdict.
"As far as I see, this is a victory for the First Amendment and against small-town ambulance chasers across America," he said.
He called the lawsuit a personal vendetta by Carpenter and said his comments about her on the air, which included ridicule and sexual taunts, were fair.
"The individual attempted to interfere with my business, went to my advertisers and got my show off the air in Juneau," Leykis said.
Carpenter had written a letter to local station KJNO-AM saying she had contacted advertisers about the show and wanted it off the air in Juneau.
"All I did was give my opinion in an entertaining manner ... for the intended audience, which is young men," he said.
One of Carpenter's attorneys, Ray Brown, said he would not comment on the case until the jury had completed its deliberations on punitive damages.