Mistrial declared in John Edwards corruption case
GREENSBORO -- After nine days of deliberations, the jury in the John Edwards case found him not guilty on one of the six charges he faced - an accusation he took an illegal campaign contribution.
Edwards' defense team asked Judge Catherine Eagles to declare a mistrial on the remaining five counts. Eagles granted the motion.
Immediately after the verdict, Edwards hugged his daughter in the courtroom and his lead defense attorney.
The former presidential candidate came out and spoke with reporters in front of the federal courthouse in Greensboro and thanked the jurors for their "hard work and diligence."
"All I can say is thank goodness we live in a country that has a system that we have," he said.
Edwards said that while he doesn't believe he did anything illegal, he did "an awful, awful lot that was wrong."
"If I want to find the person who is responsible for my sins, I don't have to go any further than a mirror," he told reporters.
Edwards was accused of using about $1 million in undisclosed payments from campaign donors to cover up an affair during his 2008 White House bid.
The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, eventually fathering a child. Prosecutors contended that Edwards used money from donors far in excess of legal campaign limits to keep the dalliance under wraps.
Following years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter's daughter in 2010.
Much of the undisclosed money was funneled to Andrew Young, a close aide to Edwards who left the campaign and falsely claimed paternity of the senator's illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later travelled with her as tabloid reporters sought to expose the candidate's extramarital affair.
Young was a key witness for the prosecution.
The main issue at the trial was whether Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by his national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, an heiress and socialite who is now 101 years old. Both had already given Edwards' campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.
Edwards denies having known about the money, which paid for private jets, luxury hotels, and Hunter's medical care. Prosecutors sought to prove he sought and directed the payments to cover up his affair, protect his public image as a "family man," and keep his presidential hopes viable.
If convicted, Edwards faced a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and as much as $1.5 million in fines.
The jury has made more news in recent days of the trial, as Eagles has closed the court to discuss unspecified issues with jurors. Four alternate jurors began wearing matching colored shirts to court and one of them was said to be exchanging smiles with Edwards. Eagles told the alternates on Wednesday that they no longer needed to come to court during deliberations.
The jurors, whose identities have been withheld throughout the trial, asked to see dozens of trial exhibits during deliberations, relating to Mellon and Baron's donations.
Baron died in 2008. Elizabeth Edwards died in late 2010.
john edwards, inside politics
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