A North Carolina jury found John Edwards not guilty on one of six counts in a campaign-finance trial, and declared itself hopelessly deadlocked on the remaining charges, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on those counts.
Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate, accused of soliciting nearly $1 million from wealthy backers to finance a cover up of his illicit affair and illegitimate child during his 2008 bid for the White House, was found unanimously not guilty on Count 3 of the six-part indictment.
That count pertained only to whether Edwards illegally received several hundred thousand dollars in donations from wealthy heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to cover up the affair in 2008.
After nine days of deliberations, three times as long as the defense took to put on its case, the courtroom here was briefly thrown into confusion when it briefly appeared the jury had reached on a verdict on all counts.
The jury informed the judge they had not reached a verdict and were charged again to go back to deliberating.
The jury came back less than an hour later and declared itself hung on the five outstanding counts.
The jury began deliberating on May 18 after a month of testimony, which at times sounded more like a steamy soap opera than a trial on the intricacies of campaign finance rules.
The government spent three weeks building its case. Much of it hinged on the testimony of Andrew Young, once Edwards’ most loyal aide, who testified he collected $725,000 from wealthy heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, who disguised her contributions as payments for antique furniture.
The prosecution detailed the way Edwards met mistress Rielle Hunter and how he worked throughout his campaign to keep the affair and later his love child a secret. The government said Fred Baron, another wealthy backer who was once Edwards’ campaign treasurer, contributed an additional $300,000 to move Hunter and her baby all over the country to keep them away from the media.
In just three days of defense testimony, Edwards’ lawyers tried to portray Young as the mastermind of a plot to use Edwards’ scandal to request funds for his own personal use. Any lies Edwards told, his lawyers, said were in an effort to keep the affair a secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer, and not to advance his political career.