John Edwards Jury Quits for the Weekend Without a Verdict
(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — A North Carolina jury completed its first full day of deliberations without a verdict in the John Edwards’ trial Friday, requesting to review pieces of evidence that could help determine the fate of the two time presidential candidate laid low by a mistress and money scandal.
The jury consists of eight men and four women. They include five African Americans, six whites and one person whose background was not clear.
A decidedly working-class group, many of the jurors have blue collar backgrounds, including three mechanics, a retired firefighter and a retired railroad engineer.
Though Edwards became a millionaire trial lawyer, his attorneys often spoke of his humble beginnings as the son of a mill worker, perhaps in an attempt to strike a chord with the jury.
Soon after being charged by federal Judge Catherine Eagles, the panel began its deliberations and requested office supplies and copies of evidence pertaining to the checks written by millionaire donor Rachel “Bunny” Mellon.
The two time presidential candidate is charged with using nearly $1 million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter and their love child during his bid for the 2008 election.
Edwards, 58, could be hit with a prison term as high as 30 years and fined up to $1.5 million if convicted of all the charges, although it is unlikely he would be hit with the most severe penalty.
In closing arguments, Edwards’ lawyer Abbe Lowell told the jury that the money to hide his mistress came from Mellon and former campaign treasurer Fred Baron. Both people gave him the money as a gift for his benefit, not as part of his political campaign, Lowell argued. And the money, he said, was used to hide the affair from Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.
“John was a bad husband, but there is not the remotest chance that John did or intended to violate the law,” Lowell said.
“If what John did was a crime, we’d better build a lot more court rooms, hire a lot more prosecutors and build a lot more jails,” he said.
Lowell said the real culprit was Edwards’ aide Andrew Young who helped hide Hunter. He claimed that Young solicited the money from Mellon and used the scandal to enrich himself. Lowell said Young, who was the prosecution’s chief witness, and his wife Cheri would “shame Bonnie and Clyde.”
Prosecutor Robert Higdon tried to convince the jury that Edwards was an archly ambitious politician fixated on obtaining a higher office.
“He would deny, deceive and manipulate,” Higdon told the jury. “The whole scheme was cooked up to support John Edwards’ political ambitions.”
Neither Edwards nor Hunter took the stand during the month long trial.
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