John Edwards Prosecutors Face Decision Time on Whether to Call Mistress
(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The prosecution of John Edwards is near the end of its case, raising questions by observers as to whether they have succeeded in tying Edwards' mistress cover up to campaign funds, and whether his mistress, Rielle Hunter, will be called by the prosecution.
The court expects to find out by the end of Wednesday whether prosecutors will call Hunter to the stand. The prosecution has said it intends to wrap up its case by Thursday.
Before Hunter is called, the jurors can expect to hear from Jennifer Palmieri, a former Edwards aide who was a close confidante of Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, who has since died of cancer.
Palmieri was present when Elizabeth Edwards confronted her husband's wealthy backer Fred Baron and Baron's wife in 2007 over their support and friendship with Hunter. According to pretrial motions, John Edwards was present at that meeting.
The bigger issue, however, is whether Hunter will be called by prosecutors.
"There is one person who seems to be at the center of all of this, these spinning planets, and that's Rielle Hunter," Steve Friedland, professor of law at Elon University, told ABC News.
But there is a risk in calling Hunter.
"She can tie it together for them. Of course, what's come out, she may be unreliable and who knows what she might say on the witness stand," Friedland said.
And there are risks of not calling her.
"If they don't call her, she will probably be called by the defense. So, in all likelihood, they will have to call her given that she is the glue here. The jury may figure, why are they not calling her?" Friedland said.
What the prosecution would want Hunter to confirm is that the cover up "was about the campaign and not just a private matter," Friedland said.
"She's the witness who can provide first hand knowledge. She's dangerous for the prosecution, but sometimes you don't get to choose your own witnesses. You have to call who's available," he said.
Kieran Shanahan, a former prosecutor who has been in court every day of the trial, believes the prosecution's hand will be forced.
"I still believe, as a practical matter, the government will call Miss Hunter, and if they don't, then certainly the defense will," Shanahan told ABC News.
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