Mistrial Called After Jury Deadlock, Edwards Found Not Guilty on Count
After deliberating for nine days following closing statements in the trial of former Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards, the jury stated today that they had reached a verdict on only one count. This came as a bit of shock to legal experts, who had seen requests for trial exhibits on the part of the jury as a sign they would need a lengthy time period to deliberate.
In response to the potential for large-scale legal deadlock, the prosecution team urged Judge Catherine Eagles to send the jury back into deliberations in an attempt to find consensus on the remaining five charges, which had a combined punishment of 30 years prison time if a conviction was reached.
Despite pleading on the part of both the prosecutors and the judge herself, the jury stepped out of deliberations today, handing down a not guilty verdict on count #3, related to allegations Edwards received contributions from financial supporter heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in excess of federal campaigning limits in 2008.
According to allegations, almost a million dollars was provided to Edwards' campaign team to hide his secret affair with (and the subsequent pregnancy of) Rielle Hunter during his presidential run. During the trial, it was discovered that Edwards' former aide Andrew Young was in charge of the funds used to hide Hunter, and had even solicited the financial help of another individual, Fred Baron, duplicating requests in excess of the actual need.
Young has since admitted to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars of the duplicative help, perhaps even using some of the monies to build a personal home.
Edwards' defense team has stated that the affair, egregious as it would appear to others, was not illegal, and that the monies provided in secret to hide Ms. Hunter from his wife (and the public eye) were never classified as campaign contributions. Because of this, according to the defense, the monies did not have to be reported to Federal campaign regulators. It would appear that their arguments stuck with at least a few members of the jury.
With regard to the other five counts, the jury reasserted today to Judge Eagles that they could not reach a consensus. In reply Eagles called a mistrial on all other counts against the former candidate.
The Justice Department will now have to make determination as to whether or not to retry Edwards on the remaining five counts.