(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — The court of public opinion has had plenty to say about John Edwards but now it’s up to a jury in Greensboro, N.C., to ultimately decide the fate of the former U.S. senator, who is charged with violating campaign finance laws by allegedly using more than $1 million in donations to hide the affair and baby he fathered with mistress Rielle Hunter during his run for the 2008 presidential nomination.
If convicted on all charges, Edwards could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years behind bars.
Throughout the trial, Edwards’ lawyers argued that the money he received from two wealthy donors was not campaign contributions, and therefore, he broke no laws.
During closing arguments on Thursday, defense attorney Abbe Lowell admitted Edwards was a bad husband who cheated on his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, while she was dying of cancer, but that he never did anything illegal in trying to keep his spouse from learning about his indiscretions.
Lowell also cast aspersions on Edwards’ former top aide, Andrew Young, who helped his old boss keep his affair with Hunter quiet, going as far as claiming paternity for a baby he didn’t father. Lowell claimed Young enriched himself and his wife with cash gifts from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Fred Baron.
Prosecutor Robert Higdon countered that Young was nothing but loyal to Edwards and that the former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination abused his position of power.
As for being a bad husband to Elizabeth Edwards, Higdon agreed with that assessment but added that he went beyond a sordid affair to exploiting the public trust by breaking campaign finance laws.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire