The Houston Chronicle said some former employees harbor more sympathy for Lay, widely regarded as a fatherly figure in Enron's halcyon days, than for Skilling.
The government takes its case against Lay and Skilling to trial starting Jan. 30.
Tracey Michel spent six years in Enron's information-technology department and has always seen Lay as undeserving of the charges the federal government brought against him, though she adds that "might be naive."
"But if they do find them guilty, I hope they serve time," she said of both men.
The newspaper said one former Enron employee questions what standard is being used to call Skilling "one of the bad guys."
"Where's the $6,000 shower curtain? Where's the $15,000 umbrella stand? This wasn't Tyco. These guys didn't enrich themselves in that way," the ex-worker said of Lay and Skilling.